Decision to allow students to pursue two degrees is welcome

Decision to allow students to pursue two degrees is welcome


Decision to allow students to pursue two degrees is welcome


A growing body of literature attests to the explosion of aspirations after the liberalisation of the economy but the country's educational institutions have struggled to do justice to the pedagogical needs precipitated by the far-reaching transformations.

The University Grants Commission’s decision to allow undergraduate, post-graduate and diploma course students to pursue two academic programmes concurrently is in keeping with the New Education Policy’s welcome thrust on eliminating silos in education. 

An eligible student studying for a degree in a science subject should also have the opportunity to learn the intricacies of a discipline in the humanities, social sciences or commerce, and vice-versa. 

Currently, the higher education regulator’s rules do not allow simultaneous enrollment in two programmes. This inflexibility is often cited as a major cause for the lack of meaningful conversations across streams of knowledge. 

The deficit is particularly glaring because a range of contemporary challenges — from addressing climate change to designing employment programmes that cater to local needs to making workplaces more inclusive — require the broad-basing of expertise. 

The reform is, therefore, much needed and if done well, can go a long way towards fulfilling one of the major objectives of liberal education — broadening outlooks and expanding the perspectives of students. Implementing it will, however, pose challenges. It will place demands on academia and require hand-holding by policymakers.

A growing body of literature attests to the explosion of aspirations after the liberalisation of the economy but the country’s educational institutions have struggled to do justice to the pedagogical needs precipitated by the far-reaching transformations. Teachers are, by and large, still not trained to do justice to students coming from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. 

The new reform could compound this predicament, especially because instructors will now be required to design courses and structure teaching practices to cater to students with core competences in diverse knowledge streams — for instance, a history classroom may well have students who are currently specialising in physics or commerce, besides those with a grounding in a social science discipline. 

The UGC will have to draw up training programmes for teachers to enable them to adapt to the changing character of the classroom. The regulator will have to do this without becoming overbearing — its record is not too inspiring on this count.

The NEP lays much store by “critical thinking” and free inquiry. Reforms towards that end, including the latest changes envisaged by the UGC, must begin by addressing a vexed issue: Autonomy, or the lack of it, for institutions as well as for teachers. Institutions have their own ethos and comparative advantages. 

The thrust towards multidisciplinary training should address deficiencies but it must also be careful not to undermine the advantages of institutions. The task of implementing the NEP’s vision has just begun. The UGC must allow education institutions to set their own pace, at least initially.(TheIndianExpress) 

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