Medicine courses

IITs to offer medical courses? Draft UGC rules call for phasing out domain-specific institutes

New Delhi: Autonomous, domain-specific institutions should be phased out and make way for multidisciplinary institutions, suggest the latest interim guidelines from the University Grants Commission (UGC) released on Saturday.

The implication is that institutions that offer a single discipline like medicine, engineering, management should transform into one that offers everything under one roof.

Seeking to potentially transform the higher education system as seen today, the guidelines also suggest autonomous degree-granting colleges. Most colleges are currently affiliated with a university, which gives them degree-granting power. But these rules are set to modify this provision.

“Transforming higher education institutions into multidisciplinary institutions” is the title of the draft guidelines published on Saturday. They have been released for public comment, with the panel seeking comments by March 20.

Many higher education institutions in India have already started adopting the multidisciplinary approach. For example, some of the oldest Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) now have strong management and humanities departments, in addition to engineering.

Several private universities like Shiv Nadar University and OP Jindal University among others are also multidisciplinary. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has also opened an engineering department and is now look for open a medical school.

“Internationally, the culture of creating and sustaining a multidisciplinary university is growing rapidly, thereby maximizing productivity by placing greater emphasis on research and development, innovation and incubation,” say the Guidelines.

“It is therefore relevant that the higher education system (HES) gradually eliminates autonomous, fragmented and domain-specific higher education institutions (HEIs) and instead creates clusters of HEIs and multidisciplinary HEIs”, add the document.

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Double major degrees? Double degree from two different courses?

The draft guidelines suggest that the whole higher education sector will be an integrated system, including professional and vocational education.

It also suggests opening necessary departments for multidisciplinary subjects, including: languages, literature, music, philosophy, indology, art, dance, drama, education, mathematics, statistics, pure and applied sciences, sociology, economics, sports, translation and interpretation.

It uses three types of institutions – research-intensive multidisciplinary universities, teaching-intensive multidisciplinary universities, and autonomous multidisciplinary degree-granting colleges.

The guidelines also talk about ways in which two institutions can partner to award dual degrees and dual degrees from two different tracks.

For dual degrees, the guidelines state, “As part of the collaboration agreement, single-track institutions may integrate their programs with those of neighboring multidisciplinary institutions to enhance what they can offer with their programs. For example, a B.Ed. course, integrated with a BA gives the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP), and a combination of BA-B.Ed.

In another arrangement, students enrolled at one institution can take the first degree at the host institution and the second degree at the partner institution leading to a double degree. For example, two institutions may partner to offer B.Sc and MBA dual degree programs.

“A Memorandum of Understanding can be signed between the partner institutions to offer the dual degree with the approval of the university, state government and/or regulatory bodies, covering all aspects such as the number of seats, how to transition from one institution to another and awarding the degree,” the guidelines add.

Additionally, the guidelines also suggest forming clusters of colleges that have low enrollment.

“Existing colleges operating on the same campus or nearby can form a cluster. This will ensure that colleges with low enrollment and fewer resources can offer multidisciplinary programs and have access to better facilities for the benefit of all,” the guidelines state.

Students can complete the study program partly at the home institution and partly at the cluster’s partner institution(s), the document adds.

The guidelines add that over time, “it is envisaged that each college will become either an autonomous degree-granting college or a constituent college of a university. In the latter case, it would be part of the university as a whole”.

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