UGC Panel Favours introduction of 4-year UG Programs

A high powered committee setup by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended introduction of four year UG programs across all streams - Humanities, Commerce & Science.  Presently barring engineering and a few other specific programs, all UG programs are of 3 year duration.

The committee which made these recommendations last week is headed by P. Balaram, former head of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.  One of the primary drivers for these recommendations was to improve the quality of research in Indian Universities.  Presently a candidate wishing to pursue PhD is required to complete a three year UG program followed by a two year PG program.  Only B.Tech/BE  candidates are allowed to register into PhD programs without a PG degree at present.  The new recommendations intend to universalize these norms across streams.

Some of the key takeaways from the committee to the UGC are:
- Increase the number of universities offering the four-year undergraduate programme, with a strong research component to provide the pipeline for good quality students for the doctoral programme.
- The fourth year of the UG course should focus on research. However, institutions will be free to run the conventional three-year courses if they want.
- Graduates from such four year UG programs should be allowed to join PhD programmes directly, and the award of PhD degrees without requiring the scholar to publish an academic paper.
- In order to encourage higher standards and accountability of the research papers being published by students in PhD programs, the examiners would be made accountable.  For this the universities will have to mention the examiner’s name on the thesis, which is not done now.

It would be interesting to see if these recommendations are accepted by the UGC and the MHRD.