24 April 2022 06:10:05 IST

Academia debates UGC move for dual degrees

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has allowed students to customise their education with dual degrees

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has allowed academic collaboration between Indian and foreign colleges to offer three different types of degree programmes — dual, joint, and twinning degrees — to students from India and abroad. Many educationists have given a thumbs up to the new rules, though there are several too who think it’s not a good idea.

According to Ravi Pachamuthu, Chairman of SRM Group of institutions, the announcement is “a great move” to personalise and customise a student’s preferred domain of expertise.

“I recommend that educationists and experts in this domain will have to take into account the practical challenges of this dual degree format along with modifying the timelines, periods or requisite classes by adapting a few extra classes or bridge courses in order to ensure that both the degrees are effective for the students,” he told BL on Campus.

Vocational courses

Promoting vocational courses will be a great step, Pachamuthu says, since industries are also constantly focusing on hiring candidates with multiple skill sets. Any new format of approach always has probabilities of trials and experiments which has to be assiduously thought about on how credibly it can be implemented with a long-term perspective without jeopardising the major objective of employability, he adds.

Calling it a “great initiative”, Prof (Dr) Bhudev C Das, Officiating Vice-Chancellor, Amity University, UP, says, new regulations will certainly help students “get international exposure,” taught by different faculty members of international repute thereby “enhancing the employability of Indian students in the international and national markets.”

Dual degrees

At the time of announcing the new regulations for a dual degree, the UGC Chairman, M Jagadesh Kumar, said: “Two degrees will allow students to customise their education.” Kumar said. Currently, there are about four crore students in Indian higher educational institutions, but this number will increase over time.

“We believe that the regulations will lead to the internationalisation of our higher education and will also provide a great opportunity for our Indian students to acquire multidisciplinary education for an internationally relevant career,” he added.

According to the new regulations, students could go for three types of degree programmes: dual (where both colleges award the degree, albeit in the same subject); twinning (where part of the course is completed overseas with the upper limit being 30 per cent); and joint where part of the course is completed overseas where lower limit being 30 per cent).

This is the first time joint degrees are being permitted. Regulations allowing some of these initiatives were first announced in 2012, and modified in 2016. But there were not many takers for the previous versions.

Dual degrees will be awarded by both Indian and foreign institutes and will indicate the credits earned at the respective institutions. Students can pursue the degree or diploma courses either in the physical mode or physical and online mode or via online and online mode.

Amity University’s Das maintains that although twinning and joint degree programmes were allowed even under the old regulations, new rules will see students enrolling for these programmes going abroad to earn credits, but they do not necessarily seek admission separately.

Similarly, dual degree programmes, where students will have to complete at least 30 per cent of their course credit at the foreign institution, will help students as they will have two degrees within the same duration of time — one foreign University and one from India. “This will obviously help students get better job opportunities,” Das adds.

Alternative viewpoint

There is some differing opinion though. According to Preethaa Ganesh, Vice-President, Vels Group of Institutions, there is no need for a concurrent dual degree at the moment.

“Although the thought to offer flexibility and multidisciplinary education to students is appreciated, multiple skillsets can be achieved through a single degree itself. There are various options to do so in the current scenario. Today, I don’t see a need for a concurrent dual degree,” she said.