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More four-year courses under UGC glare

New Delhi, July 11: The University Grants Commission has widened its scrutiny of the four-year undergraduate programmes offered in the general streams, after forcing Delhi University to roll back the one it started last year.

Under its scanner for the moment are two private universities: Shiv Nadar University and the upcoming Ashoka University, while the state-run Ambedkar University and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, may get a clean chit.

The higher education regulator today asked all universities to comply with the three-year norm for general undergraduate courses and stick to the approved nomenclature for programmes instead of inventing new ones.

When the commission cracked down on Delhi University saying its four-year programme violated the 10+2+3 system laid down by the National Education Policy 1986, fingers were pointed at the four-year courses offered by Shiv Nadar University, Ambedkar University and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

According to the Shiv Nadar University’s website, its undergraduate courses such as BA English, BA history and BA sociology starting this year will be completed in 2018. This implies these are four-year programmes.

A senior commission official said the regulator had sought details from Shiv Nadar University and received its response this week.

“Their response is under examination,” the official said.

Shiv Nadar University vice-chancellor Nikhil Sinha declined comment. “At 8 ’clock in the evening I cannot give any reaction. Respect other people’s time,” Sinha said.

Commission sources said Ambedkar University was in a different situation since it offered a “double honours” after four years. Its students can earn the first honours after three years of study and the second, in a different subject, after another year.

The premier science institute in Bangalore, on the other hand, has explained to the regulator that the fourth year in its BSc courses is devoted solely to research, the official said.

“The IISc’s course is different from the general BSc courses. Its fourth year is purely oriented towards research,” he said.

Ashoka University, coming up in Gurgaon, has announced it would start a four-year undergraduate programme soon, so its degree may come under scrutiny.

Four-year undergraduate courses will, however, be allowed in certain programmes, such as Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Visual Arts and Bachelor of Performing Arts, as these do not belong to the general streams.

Today’s commission notification said that many universities and colleges were using unconventional nomenclatures for degrees. For example, the Bachelor of Commercial Law (BCL) degree is not among those specified (recognised) by the commission, so its name should be changed to LLB (Commercial Law), the regulator said.

If such unspecified degrees are awarded, the commission has threatened to publicise the violation, practically making these degrees useless for those seeking jobs or higher studies.

The commission may undertake inspections to check whether any institution is violating its norms.