UGC drafts guidelines for multidisciplinary higher education

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has formulated the draft guidelines outlining it’s plan to encourage the growth of multidisciplinary higher educational institutes that will offer a diverse range of subjects.

According to UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, when the guidelines are approved, a dual-degree from IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University will become a distinct possibility.

The Draft Guidelines for Transforming Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) into Multidisciplinary Institutions is in line with the National Education Policy, 2020, which envisaged at least one prominent multidisciplinary higher education institute in or near every district in 2030.

As the draft is approved as an official policy, higher education institutions will have various ways to adopt a multidisciplinary nature. Colleges affiliated with universities can elevate their status to degree-awarding autonomous colleges by offering interdisciplinary education or colleges or universities will have the option of collaborating to offer dual degrees.

According to the draft guidelines, once admitted, students will be able to complete the first degree at the host institute and the second degree at the partnering institute without going through the admission process again.

“For example, JNU and IIT Delhi have separate sets of intrinsic strengths. Suppose a student pursuing BTech in IIT wants to study history in his Master’s in JNU. In that case, they should be able to do so without going through a separate admission process. For that, the two institutions need to collaborate. Hypothetically speaking, the eligibility criteria can be based on CGPA,” Kumar said.

With the country’s higher education institutions losing out in world rankings due to their single-stream nature, according to Kumar, the draft also points out the “debilitating or limiting effect on the evolution of research and innovation” as colleges are affiliated to universities that design the syllabi, conduct examinations, and award degrees.

The guidelines have offered colleges the option of forming “clusters” to overcome institutional weaknesses hindering their entry into the field of multidisciplinary education.

“This will ensure that colleges with poor enrolment and fewer resources can offer multidisciplinary programs and can have access to better facilities for the benefit of all,” read the guidelines.

Over the next few years, Kumar said, the UGC will be identifying the potential colleges and universities that can transform into robust multidisciplinary institutions.

“Those institutions, in turn, will set the template for others across the country to follow,” Kumar added.