Four-year undergraduate courses, faster doctorates and other changes in Indian higher education


The University Grants Commission has revised its rules to make major changes to undergraduate and doctoral programs offered across the country. Here’s how they’ll benefit students

The new guidelines introduce four-year undergraduate programs with multiple entry and exit options. PTI

A major overhaul is underway for the higher education sector in India. The University Scholarship Commission has prepared draft frameworks to introduce changes to undergraduate degrees and doctorates for the next academic year, keeping in mind the National Education Policy, 2020.

The frameworks were approved at the 56th UGC President and Membership Meeting held on March 10. They are likely to be released into the public domain for suggestions, according to a report by The Indian Express.

What are the revised standards proposed by UCG? And how does this benefit students? We take a look.

The draft guidelines revised eligibility criteria after the discontinuation of the MPhil degree under the NEP 2020 and the introduction of four-year undergraduate programs with multiple entry and exit options.

The “Curriculum Framework and Credit System for the Four-Year Undergraduate Program” states that new undergraduate programs will not have “rigid separations between ‘arts’ and ‘sciences’, between ‘curricular » and « extracurricular activities », between « professional » activities and « academic streams… »

Four-year UG course

According to UCG’s new four-year structure, the “common” and “introductory” courses in the natural, human and social sciences of the first three semesters are a compulsory part of the program, regardless of the student’s specialization. English, a regional language, and courses on “understanding India”, environmental science, health and wellness or yoga and sports, artificial intelligence and big data analysis are part of the common course during the first three semesters. In the fourth year, students will have to choose a “major”, a subject in which they wish to specialize.

The four-year course offers 160 credits; one credit represents 15 hours of classroom credit, the newspaper reports.

Students can choose two “major courses”: they can be anything from political science to astronomy. They can also opt for two “minor” courses, which could be interdisciplinary in nature, allowing students to choose from a variety of subjects. For example, a science student now has the option of taking courses in the humanities or social sciences.

According to the project, students must undertake a research project in the seventh semester. Their eighth and final semester will focus on this project, which will be related to the subject in which they are majoring.

After completing the four-year program, students will be awarded honors with a research degree. Jawaharlal Nehru University and University of Delhi are among the educational institutions that have decided to adopt the new curricula for this year.

Revised rules for the doctorate

The new guidelines modify the rules for admission to doctoral programs with the aim of reorienting them. In addition to qualification through the National Eligibility Test (NET) and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), an entrance test will take place. Sixty percent of the places will be occupied by students who have passed the NET/JRF and the others by entrance exams which will be organized by the universities.

Those qualified by NET/JRF will be selected on the basis of interview or defense. The selection will be evaluated in the proportion of 70 for the written test and 30 for the interview, reports The footprint.

A five percent relaxation, which SC, ST, OBC students are eligible for, will be extended to economically weak section applicants.

According to the new standards, “special consideration” will be given to the selection of the field of research. “Research on topics that are socially relevant/based on local needs/nationally important/globally significant/creating value for society or in cutting-edge areas or contributing to new/additional knowledge in areas of emerging concern around the world will be promoted,” the policy document states. , according The footprint report.

There are also clear guidelines defining the obligations of the thesis director. The project emphasizes “a good working relationship between the student and the thesis director, in which the doctoral student and the thesis director can come to an agreement on the requirements and expectations they impose on each other l ‘to another’.

It is also the responsibility of the supervisor to refer the student to courses and conferences that will aid in their research and help them reach leading national and international research centers, the guidelines point out.

“Improving the research ecosystem”

Speaking about the new changes in the education system, UGC President Jagadesh Kumar told the Hindustan Times, “The four-year undergraduate program is beneficial to students in several ways. Those interested in research can either do multidisciplinary research or focus on a single discipline in their senior year. Those who do well in the four-year undergraduate program will be eligible to join a doctoral program.

“I think it will improve the research ecosystem in our country,” he added.

With contributions from agencies

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