The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Wednesday notified guidelines for pursuing two academic programmes simultaneously in physical, online or distance learning mode. UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar announced that the commission has decided to allow students to pursue two full-time and same-level degree programmes in physical mode simultaneously either at the same university or from different universities.
The guidelines come into effect from Wednesday, April 13, and no retrospective benefit can be claimed by students who have already done two academic programmes simultaneously prior to the notification of these guidelines.
"A student can pursue two full-time 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. A student can pursue two academic programmes, one in full-time physical mode and another in Open and Distance Learning (ODL), online mode or up to two ODL and online programmes simultaneously," the guidelines read.
"Degree or diploma programmes under ODL or online mode shall be pursued with only such HEIs (higher education institutions) which are recognised by the UGC, Statutory Council or the government of India for running such programmes," it added.
The UGC has informed that degree or diploma programmes under these guidelines shall be governed by the regulations notified by it and also the respective statutory and professional councils, wherever applicable.
"The guidelines shall be applicable only to the students pursuing academic programmes other than PhD programme. Based on the guidelines, the universities can devise mechanisms, through their statutory bodies, for allowing their students to pursue two academic programmes simultaneously," the UGC said.
The UGC has been planning such a move for a long time, but received the go-ahead for it in 2020. The commission had set up a committee in 2012 as well to examine the idea, and consultations were held, but ultimately, the idea was junked.
"With the rapid increase in demand for higher education and limited availability of seats in regular stream, several higher education institutions have started a number of programmes in ODL mode to meet aspirations of students. It has also led to the emergence of online education programmes which a student can pursue within the comforts of their home," the UGC said.
"The issue of allowing students to pursue two academic programmes simultaneously has been examined by the commission keeping in view of the provisions envisaged in NEP which emphasises the need to facilitate multiple pathways to learning involving both formal and non-formal education modes," it added.