UGC bar gives add-on jitters to State varsities

UGC bar gives add-on jitters to State varsities

Hyderabad: Is it time for the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other apex regulatory authorities of higher education at the Centre and the State...

Hyderabad: Is it time for the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other apex regulatory authorities of higher education at the Centre and the State to shun treating students committing a crime for studying an additional course or what they like?

The question has come to the fore following a set of new guidelines issued recently by the UGC allowing to pursue two degrees simultaneously. But it retained a clause discriminating against students who pursued two courses simultaneously before and after issue of guidelines.

The UGG claimed that its new guidelines to allow students to pursue double degree programmes in a bid to offer them a range of disciplines, including sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, languages, as well as professional technical and vocational subjects to make them thoughtful, well-rounded and creative individuals. It is to prepare them to have more meaningful and satisfying lives and work roles and enable economic independence. It is in line with the National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020).

The new changes have been welcomed by several quarters. But questions were raised over a specific clause of the UGC guidelines. The new norms say, "the guidelines shall come into effect from the date of their notification by the UGC." However, "No retrospective benefit can be claimed by those students who have already done two academic programmes simultaneously, prior to the notification of the guidelines."

Speaking to The Hans India, sources in the Osmania University said, the university allowed its undergraduate and postgraduate students pursuing both the regular and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode to pursue an additional Post-Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications (PGDCA) in ODL mode. Also, all such students who have pursued PGDCA as an additional course had been offered fee concession to encourage them to take the course.

"The objective was to empower the students with computer skills that help them to get employment opportunities. Or, to further pursue Master of Computer Applications (MCA) taking lateral admission in the second year of MCA course." said an OU official.

Now, the OU authorities are in a dilemma whether the PGDCA certificates awarded to the students who have pursued it as an additional course before the new guidelines are valid. It is not only PGDCA; the university had awarded several such diploma courses as an add-on or an independent course in ODL mode as well as in regular mode running evening college.

Similarly, students of under-graduate, and post-graduate studies of arts, humanities, social sciences, as well as engineering and medical courses have enrolled themselves and pursued diploma-level courses in vocal and instrumental music in Karnataka and Hindustani music traditions in the State government-run music colleges both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. That apart, other popular courses pursued include Diploma and PG Diploma in Yoga and foreign languages offered by the university departments or premier universities, like English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU).

"If the UGC bar has to be implemented, the universities and colleges have to cancel all such degrees and diplomas awarded by them, as they were illegal. The UGC should take into consideration the ground reality and validate all degrees and diplomas awarded in the case of students who have pursued more than one course simultaneously before the new guidelines were issued. It can give a one-time waiver validating all the double degree courses pursued before the new guidelines."

All these issues are expected to come up for discussion at a meeting of vice-chancellors of the State universities, from both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, with UGC chairman Prof Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar likely to be held next week, the sources said.

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