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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

UGC Rules Dual-degree offerings of IITs as Illegal

UGC has come up with new rules on Integrated/Dual-degree programs which are so popular not just in India but similar programs have been popular the world over. The new rules essentially ask the universities (including IITs) to stop their current offerings.

The rules notified in the Gazette of India in July, 2014 say the following:


"If the Integrated/Dual Degree Programmes intend to offer two separate degrees with an option for an interim exit or lateral entry, the duration of the Integrated/Dual Degree Programme must not be less than the duration equal to the sum total of the prescribed duration of the two degrees that are being combined in the Integrated/Dual Degree Programme. Provided further that both the degrees awarded under the Integrated /Dual Degree programme shall be individually and separately recognized as equivalent to corresponding degrees and not as one single integrated degree."

The attraction of dual-degree programs are two-fold: They are generally of lesser duration than the sum of individual durations of two programs. And one does not need to worry about admission process after the first degree.

The UGC notification specifically says:

"The academic philosophy/rationale behind offering such integrated programmes should not be for economising on course requirements or award of double degrees in a fast track."

That UGC does not understand education is pretty obvious, for they just don't seem to understand how universities are able to offer two degrees in a shorter timeframe. The shorter timeframe does not reduce the quality of offering, or requirements, if done properly. Because UGC has no competence to check if this is being done properly or not, it takes the easy way out, ban the offering, or make it so unattractive that universities will stop offering them. A very typical Indian way of regulation - if the regulator is incompetent, instead of fixing the regulation, will ban everything and avoid the need for regulation.

So, how are IITs able to offer BTech-MTech dual degree in 5 years, instead of 6 years. Well, first of all, one realizes that an under-graduate degree is expected to provide a broad-based education, preparing the candidate for a variety of careers after the under-graduate program, including but not limited to higher education, a technical job, a general job (what we call as a non-core career), and pretty much everything else. The curriculum is designed keeping in mind that we do not know the career path of the student. And in particular, there are lots of "elective" courses that are part of the graduation requirement which the student can choose keeping in view the specific career goals or the immediate career goals that s/he may have. Now, if the student has made up his/her mind on the next stage of the career, it is considered alright to reduce that breadth by just a small amount (say a couple of courses) and let those open elective slots be used to take the advanced courses. So essentially, there is a small amount of double counting of courses.

Second, in a typical MTech program, we admit students from diverse background, and hence we have a couple of courses to refresh the under-graduate curriculum to cover topics which we consider as important but generally have not been taught or at least not taught well by other universities. For our dual-degree students, we assume that these couple of refresher courses need not be taught to them since they have not only done those courses as we desire, but also they typically are good students (not everyone can enroll for a dual-degree in IIT Kanpur).

Then we look for areas of overlap. We notice that the goals of the project work overlap with the goals of the thesis work. And hence we could remove the project requirement from the graduation requirements of the dual-degree.

Further, since these are good students, we can allow them to take a bit of an overload (a course extra in a couple of semesters) and earn credits at a slightly faster pace then what is expected from students of either program.

And lastly, we allow these students to stay back in the summer term and do a couple of courses, again thereby earning credits a little faster.

UGC has been promoting the virtues of a credit based system of learning over the last decade. And a credit based system should allow someone to graduate early, if one can complete the credits at a faster pace. Indeed, at IIT Kanpur, we used to talk about a BTech program with a minimum duration of 8 semesters. We have now changed our rules and we talk about a BTech program with a normal duration of 8 semesters. This change is important and forms the core of a credit based system. It is possible for an exceptionally bright student at IIT Kanpur to receive a BTech degree in 7 semesters. And there are many examples of students who have done this, typically students who have fallen ill and hence can not earn any credits in a particular semester, work doubly hard in the remaining semesters, and get a degree in 7 semesters. Students do not go for 7-semester BTech for practical reasons - the placement activity is allowed only after the 7th semester, the joining dates are typically after 8th semester, taking overloads may spoil a few grades, etc. But theoretically one can do a 7-semester BTech. And all this was music to the ears of UGC which wanted to promote credit based system in Indian universities.

If we look at MTech programs, typically a student is expected to do 4 courses a semester (or equivalent work on a project/thesis) for 4 semesters. Why only 4 courses as opposed to 5-6 courses that a BTech student is expected to do in a semester. It is because it is expected that MTech students will have some financial assistantship and that would require the student to work for the department about 8 hours per week (roughly equal to one course). But now, if someone comes to us and says that s/he does not want to take financial assistantship, should be exempted from working for the department, and instead be allowed to do one extra course, and similarly, do an extra course in the summer term so that the requirement of 16 courses (or equivalent project/thesis work) can be completed in 3 semesters, UGC should be happy that their mantra of credit based system is being pursued by Indian universities. But, no, credit based system is not important, since there is no competence to check the quality of those credits. The mantras are only to chant, not to understand and follow. The number of years can be computed very easily by a 5-year old, but to check the quality of credits, one will need the intelligence of a 20-year old, or even higher. Our regulators are happy to assume that they have only the intelligence of a 5-year old, and they can only do counting and accounting, number of years, number of courses, number of days in a year, number of faculty for every 100 students, number of computers, number of books, and so on. Anything that a 5-year old can not do, UGC can not do.

What is strange in these regulations is the distinction it makes between the Integrated degree and a dual-degree. As we noted above, if a university is giving two degrees with an option to exit after the first degree, then the program has to be of duration which is sum of the two durations. But if the university is giving only one degree (higher) then the university can reduce the duration by up to 20 percent. This is really strange. So UGC is accepting that there can be overlaps between the credits of the two degrees, that there can be overloads, or in whatever way it is done, it is possible to complete the requirements of the two degrees in 20% less time, but only if you give one degree, and this can not be done if you are giving two degrees. So if IITK has a BTech-MTech dual degree program, it has to be of 6 years duration, but if IITK has an Integrated MTech program, it can be of 5 years. What really is the difference between the credits requirement of the two programs?

What is most interesting in this whole process is the following. UGC is suggesting that if a university (or IIT) wants to run an integrated MSc (or MA or any master's degree program) program, which does not have an exit option for BSc (or BA, etc.) then the duration of the program can be 4 years. So it turns out that its primary objection to FYUP is that students should be given a Master's degree after four years and not a bachelor's degree. I am sure we will soon see a huge rush for Integrated MSc/MA/MCom programs offered as 4-year programs by lots of universities, particularly in the private sector. And very soon, everyone in India will be doing a 4-year program after 12th class, but it will not be called under-graduate program but a master's program. So far we had only heard of marks inflation and grade inflation, now we will hear of degree inflation.

The situation is even stranger for horizontal dual degrees, that is, two bachelors degrees. If IITK wants to start (and we have considered it in the past) a BTech-BTech dual degree program (for example, someone getting a BTech in Electrical Engineering and a BTech in Chemical Engineering), we will have to create an 8-year program. Does it make any sense whatsoever. Do we ask our students to repeat Physics 101, and Maths 101. What do they do for 8 years. It is fairly common in US universities (and even in India, BITS Pilani runs a hugely popular dual-degree program in which two under-graduate degrees are given). And in all cases, the idea is that any course can satisfy the requirements for both the degrees. So Physics 101 can be used to satisfy the requirement for both BTech in Electrical and BTech in Chemical, and essentially only those courses need to be done for the second degree which have not been done while pursuing the first degree. Through this mechanism, one is able to complete the credit requirements for the second under-graduate degree in just one extra year. But UGC would like to ban all this, and require that the student repeats all common courses. Isn't that a waste of national resources. But UGC does not care. Remember they can only do what a 5-year old can do. And a 5-year old can not understand national waste.

50 comments:

Rakshit Agarwal said...

Hi Dheeraj,
I'm fascinated by your post. Can you please somehow include he link of the Gazette of India in July 2014, I couldn't find the original text online.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/1061840_specification-of-degrees-july-2014.pdf

sks said...

Hello sir,
So i wanted to know, what will happen to the presently running dual degree(btech +mtech) courses in IITs?

sanj said...

take it to the PMO or Minister HRD. this is totally nuts....going backwards each day instead of forward. PM has promised a glorious future not tying the country into knots.
you have global players like google hiring without paying much attention to degrees and more to one's knowledge, skill and other relevant measures and then we have this...ugh......
one step forward, ten steps back...

Puneet said...

IITs are autonomous. UGC is nobody to suggest what IITs should or should not do.

Abhinay said...

Brilliant post Professor. Being a dual degree holder myself, I could relate to it very well. I don't know about other Indian universities but at least IITs have designed dual degree programs very well and for someone who goes ahead with PhD, saving one year matters a lot.
It is really sad that UGC instead of involving academics like you in the discussions, issue these stupid rulings.

Saurabh Nanda said...

weren't all relevant stakeholders consulted BEFORE this notification was drafted? Shouldn't that be legally binding on the regulator (to publish draft notification and invite comments form stakeholders and public at large)?

Raj Kunkolienkar said...

Hi Dheeraj!

Since you made a note of BITS Pilani's dual scheme, I'd like to add a few points and raise a few questions.

Personally, I'm a 3rd year UG student pursuing integrated MSc Physics with honors at the Goa Campus.

Elaborating for the uninformed readers, BITS Pilani duals are found in 4 permutations (I.e. BE+ MSc, MSc+MSc,MSc+BE,BE+BE). The MSc degrees are integrated MScs and all the degrees are awarded with honors. For a single degree it takes 4 years, be it a MSc or a BE (yes, I am already in a 4 year Int. MSc programme!) and for a dual, it takes 5-5.5 years. So far, I can say that the revised course structure (I'm talking for Physics) is surely one of the best in India and exposes one to advanced things very early on, minus unnecessary intro courses.

Coming to to the questions, since this is a heady mix of both a dual as well a integrated masters course (MSc + BE, BE + MSc), how will they fare with the new UGC ruling? Will they still be 'legal'? Because if they aren't, it sure is a very sad day in India's higher education scenario as you pointed out.

Tarun Kumar said...

Sir will this affect BITS Pilani Dualites also?

And students already enrolled be able to complete their degrees?

Tanmay Ghonge said...

Wait, I am missing something here. The guideline says that the duration of the combined degree should be sum of duration of individual degrees if there is an option for "interim exit". IITs don't allow interim exit. Then how does it affects the dual degree program?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@sks, Nothing will happen to our dual-degree programs. We just ignore UGC.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Soumen Mandal, I have not allowed your comment since it has nothing to do with the post. Only UGC bashing is allowed. No other regulator can be bashed on this page. :-)

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Puneet, All other universities are autonomous too.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Tanmay, First of all, IIT Kanpur does allow an exit. It also allows an entry into the program at points other than the admission to the first degree (through program change). But in general, the UGC is putting all dual-degree programs in two categories - one in which two degrees are given with lateral entry and early exit possibility, and two in which only one degree is given in which case, there is obviously no lateral entry or early exit. If all dual-degree programs have to be one of the two kinds, then our program will have to be one of these two kinds. But, of course, we can ignore UGC.

Saurabh Joshi said...

Sir,
Pardon me for my ignorance but I am not quite clear on what is the role and authority of UGC over universities. If universities (including IITs) are autonomous in the true sense of the word, doesn't it make UGC merely an advisory body? If a university thinks that the "guidelines" by UGC does not align well with the goals of the university, is the university allow to ignore it? It would help if you can throw light on the role and authority of UGC. As far as the post is concerned, I fully agree that UGC is yet to evolve a fully functional brain.

For example, when honourable Supreme Court asked universities to take measurable steps to curb ragging, UGC went overboard requiring students and their parents to sign a declaration that the student would not indulge in ragging. What is the point of that? If someone had not signed the declaration, can he go free if found guilty? If someone had signed it, is it a gurantee that s/he will not indulge in ragging? Besides, why ask parents to sign a form when the student is himself/herself an adult (18+ years)? This practice goes on even at IITK where they send letters to parents (even to PhD students' parents some of whom are parents themselves). If you are in a position, I would request you to stop that nonsense, that would save a lot of paper and taxpayers' money.

Anurag said...

Sir, I am pursuing a Dual Degree course from NIT, Rourkela and wanted to know what actually does this mean for the current batch of the course?

inveter8blogger said...

Regarding UGC having the brains of a 5 year old...there is a table in that gazette(page 16) titled 'Sanskrit sounding degrees'.

prabha said...

UGC should check scan all the degrees awarded whichever the institute like iit, bits other deemed universities. Cancel all this complicated courses like integrated, dual degree etc. One should see the results of campus recruitment only the normal students were getting placement with flying colours. And all this integrated, dual elders get second choices of placement. Immediately UGC/Govt should give the chance to students to switch to other courses with in the institute to bring uniformity for the admission year 2014-15. There are people always comment on some good action of UGC.

prabha said...

this is a comment on "Saurabh Joshi"
regarding affidavit of ragging.

The questioning the rational behind affidavit may not be logical. Suppose tomorrow you extend that logic whether every one given driving licence is a good driver? Then why a person making accident after having a licence. Whereas some people are driving without licence but without any accident. Hence why there is need for driving licence. After the Supreme court verdict on the ragging and implementation of this affidavit ragging menace on the education institution has come down quite a lot. One can not keep on questioning procedure established. The guidelines of this procedure is made at a national level and one can not look whether a PhD student is a parent or not. It is made in overall aspect even no one give guarantee that a Phd student will not rag a junior student. This is a problem in our system where every one want to question every thing always.

Saurabh Joshi said...

@prabha : Please note that Honorable Supreme court has not asked for an affidavit from parents in its guidelines. It is UGC's doing. After a person is 18 years old, he or she is fully responsible for his/her actions and no law in the country can punish a parent (unless the parent is involved) for the wrongdoing of a child.

Your analogy with driving licence does not make much sense here. Driving licence is not a pledge saying that the holder will not make any mistake. It is mere a document stating that at some point of time the holder demonstrated a required level of driving skills. One can not rag another person "by mistake" where one can be involved in an accident by mistake. Even for driving licence, they do not ask your parents' signature unless you are a minor.

Sharadindu Pandey said...

4 years Integrated MA programme appears valid (but actually not), because in the July regulation, UGC does not feel the need to refer its previous regulation: http://www.ugc.ac.in/oldpdf/regulations/masterdegree_regulation.pdf

Where in 8.1 it mentions: "No student shall be eligible for the award of the Master’s degree unless
he/she has successfully completed a minimum of two years after the
First degree or five years after Plus Two or earned the minimum number
of credits prescribed by the university for the programme"
Sharadindu

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Sharadindu, Two things. One, what you have extracted clearly says "OR earned the minimum number
of credits prescribed by the university for the programme." This means that less than 5 years is possible. Second, the new regulations have for the first time agreed to the reality that integrated programs or dua-degree programs can be done in reduced time compared to the total time of two degrees. So the new regulations over-ride the older one.

Sharadindu Pandey said...

I have only two things to say finally:
1. I just knew that in its amendment regulation,2013 UGC had put the word 'and' instead of 'Or' ( "five years after Plus Two and earned the minimum number") and ended the possibility of 4 years MA. I missed it to mention. http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4380302_English.pdf

2.On the ignoring such a diktat, I see that UGC act, 1956 (section 24) has penal provisions for the members of the body on the non-compliance of 22 (3) i.e. "power to prescribe degree". I wonder if UGC exercises this, the hard earned reputation of the institution may be at stake.
Sharadindu

vijay kumar said...

hello sir
what happens to the students who already passed out with dual degree....

Naresh said...

Sir I am a student of integrated degree B.Tech + M.Tech passing out in 2015 would like to ask what are the available options for me except higher studies

Chatty C said...

Sir,
I am studying B.pharm from kerala university of health science in regular mode. Can I do BCA from other university as distance mode same time?

Thank you

Sandeep Bhargava said...

Dear Dheeraj,
Many universities are still offering 5 year Integrated B Tech + MBA Dual degree programs.As per advertisement by them they will provide dual degree after completion.in fact this is a integrated course and they can proivde only higher degree.What will be acceptance of such degrees in market.Why cannt UGC take action against such Deemed to be universities.

ISWAR TYAGI said...

SIR AFTER MY DUAL DEGREE B.TECH+M.TECH CAN I DO PH.D.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Iswar, Yes, you can.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Sandeep, Markets typically does not care for UGC rules. If the degree holder has the right skills, they will hire.

prabha said...

As on today whether the following degrees is valid or not.
1)Dual degree(BTech+MTech of IIT/IIIT/NIT)
2)Integrated degree MTecH (of IIT/IIIT/NIT)
Is there possibility of any changes?

Sandeep Bhargava said...

Dheeraj, does UPSE will accept BTech degree of 5 years integrated BTEch plus MBA = MBATech as minimum qualification.

Sandeep Bhargava said...

Dheraj, that's a diplomatic answer to my question. Does lower degree like B tech of these integrated degree( not dual where course period is same) is acceptable as basic qualification in UPSE , PSUs and othe statutory bodies lets.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Sandeep, In as far as the dual degrees are concerned, I have not heard anyone facing any problems till now. But whether UGC will come up with something strange tomorrow and create panic in the marker, I don't know.

aditya divyadarshi said...

Kindly suggest me , should i continue my dual b.tech+m.tech from KIIT or not . Am I able to do Phd ??

Sagar Rane said...

@Dheeraj Sanghi, I am doing Integrated M.Tech-Ph.D course in Pune University Department, course duration is 4yrs(1yr MTech+3yrs PhD). Is it Valid Degree? After completion of course period they are giving us Integrated Degree. But Academic UGC Approval for Teacher requires M.Tech degree. Can I apply for post doc based on this degree? I am in trouble? What action we can take? please help us.

Daya said...

Hi dheeraj,

I have been working for an MNC for 2 years, they are tied up with bits to offer Mtech in software engineerg through Wilp(work integrated learning program),duration of the course is 2 years.I just wanted is this degree valid as per ugc norms and can I apply for lecture post with this degree and also wanted to know If I can pursue my PhD

pankaj kumar said...

can anyone tell me two degree at the same time is valid or not?
i heard we can join a new degree course after completing one year of existing degree course is it true?

Ayush Bhardwaj said...

sir, am I eligible to teach in the aicte approved colleges. I am currently in 4th year of dual degree (B.tech+ M.tech) in state technical university M.P affiliated by UGC?

IISERgraduate said...

Sir,
I am a BS-MS dual degree graduate from one of the IISER. I have qualified CSIR NET in Chemistry and recently joined in an aided college in Kerala as assistant professor. You have mentioned that UGC does not approve the dual degrees from IITs. Does the same hold for IISER degrees? I would like to know if my dual degree will affect my approval. Since the university is not providing any course by the name BS-MS, will I have to go through all the course recognition process in the university before getting the approval or will I be exempted from it since IISERs being central university?

Namdev Wadekar said...

Dear sir,
I have completed B.S in information system from BITS pilani (work intigrated program) before the notification.will these degree eligible for the government jobs. Will the UGC or government considere it valid? Please guide.

Manisha Kalra said...

Dear Sir,
We wish to enroll our son for integrated MTech imtech(IT) in IIIT Bangalore.Would there be problem in pursuing higher studies or research after completion since we are not sure whether the student is awarded two degrees BTech-MTech or one MTech degree? Please reply.Please we need your valuable guidance on dual degree BTech - MS by research in computational natural sciences by IIIT Hyderabad.Regards.
Manisha Kalra

Rishav Kumar said...

Dheeraj ji,I am doing dual degree(btech+mba) from kiit university,Bhubaneswar,now after my completion whether i would be given two degrees i.e of b.tech in mechanical engineering and other integrated dual degree or i would be given a single degree of integrated course,if it so happens,then what is the credibility of that degree?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

There are enough dual-degree programs and integrated MTech programs in the country where the university/institute does not care for exact UGC rule. So I don't think there should be a fear of such programs. However, I do not wish to provide you a legal advise or take any risk, if things don't work out the way you thought.

sadgurunath k said...

Hi dheeraj..I appreciate ur patience in replying to all queries
I have a small doubt regarding Wilp course and it's ugc approval status. Now I am in second year. Will it fetch to do PhD and I want to shift to academics. Will this degree helps..I heard that it's recognition is post facto type. Thanks in advance

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

You can do PhD even without a Master's degree. So you can not become ineligible even if this is not a recognised degree. I must also add that I have not heard of any problem with WILP but you may ask BITS for more authentic information.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

You can do PhD even without a Master's degree. So you can not become ineligible even if this is not a recognised degree. I must also add that I have not heard of any problem with WILP but you may ask BITS for more authentic information.

Bhanu23 said...

Ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/1061840_specification-of-degrees-july-2014.pdf cannot be found plz provide copy

pankaj kumar said...

Hold on... There is a difference in dual specialization and dual degree.... Under dual specialization a student enrolled for one course bt cn can get a degree of two specialization bt in case of two degrees... A student enroll for two courses in same or different universities nd gets two different drgrees my query ws relaging to two degrees at the same time

Ravi Kumar Ray said...

I have done 5 years Integrated MCA course from BIT,Mesra,Ranchi.I have degree namely "Integrated Masters Of Computer Application".Also I dont have any degree or certificate at graduation and it was a single degree provided at the end of the course.I want to clarify following questions
1. Whether I am eligible to write UPSC CSE exams or not?
2. Can I apply for those vacancies where eligibility criteria is MCA i.e, whether my degree is equivalent to MCA or not?
3.How shall I calculate my UG and PG marks separately?