UGC sets out to align IITs courses and degrees

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has shot off a communication to the country’s 16IITs to make changes to its four year undergraduate course just a few days after it had asked the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore to do the same.

UGC, the apex higher education regulator, has written to all Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), thereby asking them to ensure that the degrees they are offering are aligned to those recognized by them. A copy of the 5th July 2014 Gazette notification has also been sent out by the Commission has to all IITs listing out all the recognised degrees, which was issued after the Delhi University Four Year Undergraduate Programme controversy.

The IITs which are governed by their own Act of Parliament are far from amused at the UGC suddenly writing letters to them on its academic programmes. Some of the upset IITs have already taken up the matter with the HRD Ministry led by Smriti Irani asking how the regulator for the university system is issuing circulars to them.

IIT Kanpur is one of the IITs that could be directly affected by UGC’s latest communication. The institute offers four year undergraduate programmes -Bachelors in Science (BS) in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Economics.  The list of recognized degrees by UGC only allows for a four year BSc degree; under pressure from UGC IISC was recently forced to rename its Bachelors of Science (BS) programme to a three year BSc and BSc Research for a four year course.

Prof Dheeraj Sanghi, IIT Kanpur’s Dean Academic Affairs, said that the IIT is not proceeding ahead on the UGC communication as the Commission has no legal power to direct IITs. He said, “We have decided not to take cognizance of the UGC communication as of now as the Commission can hardly dictate on academic issues to IITs. The IITs are governed by their own Act. We will take the issue to our Senate if necessary and decide on it if UGC presses ahead. However, the UGC communication raises other serious issues as it would also mean dual degree programmes are largely illegitimate. Dual degree courses are highly popular in IITs and the UGC directions could therefore upset many IITs”.

Prof Pradipta Banerjee, Director at IIT Roorkee, said that they have decided not to act on the UGC communication at all as the degrees the IIT offers are as permitted under the IIT Act. The administration of IIT Roorkee has taken up the matter with Secretary Higher Education, HRD ministry.

Other IITs have argued that the higher education regulator cannot be dictating diktats to them as they do not depend on UGC for funding and nor are they governed by UGC regulations.

Prof Ved Prakash, UGC Chairman, said that IITs also have to align their degrees and their nomenclature in keeping with the gazette notification. Prakash says, “A communication has been sent to IITs to align their courses and degrees with the ones recognized by UGC. The communication has been sent to IITs to ensure all degrees granted by an institute in the country is recognized and ensures employment of students. The government will take a call on the same in case IITs do not adhere to the established and recognized nomenclature and academic programmes.”

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