ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Degree Devaluation

The University Grants Commission guidelines for pursuing two degrees simultaneously in April 2022 are said to provide multiple pathways of multidisciplinary learning. Pursuing two degrees simultaneously is said to meet the demand–supply deficit by promoting online and distance learning modes. This article examines these claims and argues that it may lead to the deterioration of standards in higher education. Dual degrees may promote degree mills and lead to the phenomenon of degree devaluation.

 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India has issued the “Guidelines for Pursuing Two Academic Programmes Simultaneously” in April 2022 to allow for “multiple pathways to learning” and earning degrees (UGC 2022). These guidelines are not binding as the UGC regulations are incumbent upon the universities’ decision-making authority. However, these guide­lines indicate the directions of change sought by the policymakers. Under the new guidelines, two full-time academic program­mes may be undertaken simultaneously in (i) regular modes, (ii) one in regular and another in open and distance learning ODL/open learning (OL), or (iii) up to two ODL/online programmes.

The UGC guidelines (2022) are preceded by another UGC notification dated 28 December 2012 and minutes of the meeting of the committee for seeking suggestions. As per the minutes, merely suggestions were sought for undertaking more than one degree programme simultaneously—one regular and another distance/online mode (whether degree, diploma or certificate). Nothing happened during 2012 and 2022 at the policy level to allow students to pursue two degree programmes. The UGC in a bold move issued guidelines in April 2022 permitting two academic program­mes simultaneously in regular modes or/and ODL/OL modes. Earlier, the UGC—in pursuance of the objective to maintain standards—has shown its reluctance to allow students to take up more than one degree programme. There are numerous court cases, which show that the minutes of a committee in 2012 for seeking suggestions for pursuing more than one degree led to the belief that the UGC has actually permitted more than one degree to be pursued at a time. Fin­ally, the UGC issued a public notice dated 15 January 2016 stating that the idea of allowing the students to pursue two degrees is not permitted (UGC 2016). The various orders of the courts held the pursuing of more than one degree by the students as illegal (UGC 2012).

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Updated On : 14th May, 2022
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