For the first time, the government declared that students can now take two full-time, same-level degree courses in physical mode at the same or separate universities at the same time. In a statement, the University Grants Commission (UGC) stated that this option will be offered to students beginning in the 2022-23 academic year.
“As announced in the new National Education Policy (NEP) and in order to allow students to acquire multiple skills,” UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar said in a press conference on Tuesday, “the UGC is coming up with new guidelines to allow a candidate to pursue two degree programmes in physical mode simultaneously.”
Kumar stated that while no university or council will be required to follow these principles, the commission hopes that more and more institutions will allow students to pursue two degrees concurrently. “Once the instructions are provided to institutions and statutory organisations, they will be free to implement them in whichever way they see fit,” the UGC chairman stated.
According to the draft guidelines prepared by the UGC, students can pursue two full-time degrees in three ways. They are
- First, students can pursue both academic programmes in physical mode provided that in such cases, class timings for one programme do not overlap with the class timings of the other programme.
- Second, they can pursue one programme in physical mode and another in online or distance mode.
- And third, they can pursue up to two degree programmes in online or distance mode simultaneously.
Which two degree courses can be pursued at once
- For now, the two degrees will only be non-technical programmes that are approved by the UGC.
- The two degree courses can be a combination of subjects from different streams, that is humanities, science and commerce.
- Admission to the two degrees will be granted depending on the eligibility of the student and the availability of programmes.
Attendance requirement and eligibility criteria
The attendance requirement for the programmes will be decided by respective colleges and institutions, UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar said.
The process and eligibility for admission will be decided by the respective institutions, he said. “If a university requires a student to sit for CUET (Common University Entrance Test), they will have to do that, if another institution he or she is looking at does not have such a test then they will have to follow that particular institution’s admission process,” Kumar explained.
Kumar also clarified that the students will not be allowed to use credits earned in one programme to fulfill the requirement of another programme.
“Each programme has its own credit requirements and they have to fulfil that. They can use one set of credits for two degrees,” he said.
What if exams of two degree courses collide
According to the notification by the UGC, exam dates of the two degree course will be decided by the institutes. Responding to a question on the possibility of overlapping examinations, UGC Chairman Kumar said: “It will be up to the institutes”.
“If two institutions have an MoU and have decided to let each others’ students pursue two simultaneous degrees then they can work out the examination schedule easily,” he said.
Asked if a similar option is available in other countries, Kumar said that “it could be that some country offers the flexibility but if not, India could be the first one to opt for this higher education reform”.
“With this reform, a student will be able to pursue a BCom and a mathematics degree together if the student wishes to, and if he or she is eligible to do so. The idea is to provide as much flexibility to students as possible,” Kumar said.