Given that students have started enrolling for two degrees simultaneously in colleges abroad to enhance their skill and increase their knowledge about several subjects at a time — as having a single bachelor’s degree does not often make one stand out in the crowd — the University Grants Commission (UGC) has agreed to a proposal to enable pupils to do that in the country as well.
The precondition to be met to avail of the opportunity is that one of the undergraduate courses has to be pursued as a regular (full-time) student. The other can be through the online distance learning (ODL) programme.
The official who shared the information said that “an official notification will be issued soon in this regard”.
UGC had rejected the idea in 2012, began deliberating upon it again in 2019
The UGC had last year set up a panel headed by its Vice Chairman, Bhushan Patwardhan, to examine the issue after turning down a similar proposal eight years ago. The commission had set up a committee in 2012, holding consultations on the proposal, but eventually junked the idea.
Furqan Qamar, the Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad University, had headed the 2012 committee, which had recommended that a student enrolled in a degree programme under regular mode might be allowed to pursue a maximum of one additional degree programme simultaneously under open or distance mode from the same or a different university.
“However, two degree programmes under regular mode may not be allowed simultaneously as it may create logistic, administrative and academic problems. A student pursuing a degree programme under regular mode may be allowed to pursue a maximum of one certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, PG diploma programme simultaneously either in regular or open and distance mode in the same university or from other institutions,” the panel report had said.
According to UGC officials, “the commission had then sought comments of the statutory councils on the committee’s report and the responses received did not endorse the idea of allowing students to pursue multiple degree programmes simultaneously. Hence the plan did not take off”.
“It has now been decided to revisit the idea because technology has brought in lot of changes. There are vast majority of people who want to pursue specialised courses besides their regular degree programmes,” the official said.
A committee headed by UGC chairman Bhushan Patwardhan had been studying the proposal since June 2019. Most among a variety of stakeholders that the committee held consultations with had no objection to the idea.
This has been possible in the US, UK, Australia for many years now
“In Australia, nearly all universities of repute allow simultaneous enrolment in more than one degree or even postgraduate course,” said Mausumi Dasgupta, who has been an overseas education consultant for nearly two decades.
“Monash University, Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, etc allow a student to get enrolled together in courses such as Bachelor of Business with Bachelor of Law or Bachelor of Construction Management with Bachelor of Business,” Dasgupta said, adding that it is referred to as “double or dual degree” in Australia and “sandwich programme” in the UK.
“It is possible for Master’s courses as well,” she said, giving the examples of Master of Commerce-Accounting with Master of Finance or Master of Information Technology with Master of Business, which several students apply for.
“This happens in the US, too,” Dasgupta said. Kennesaw State University, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University, Marconi International University – Miami, Felician University, PFH Private University of Applied Sciences, The University of Scranton Online, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Michael F. Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, Cambridge Graduate University, Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University and at least 50 other American universities allow it.