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Rao crack at IISc meddlers

New Delhi, Aug. 11: C.N.R Rao has targeted higher education authorities for meddling with the academic affairs of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, following a UGC circular that it should discontinue its four-year Bachelor of Science course.

“Certainly, there should be no attempt to deal with curricula and other matters in such an institution through circulars. What I say about Indian Institute of Science would also apply to a small number of other outstanding institutions in the country,” Rao, the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, told The Telegraph through e-mail.

On August 4, the UGC had sent a circular to the IISc asking it to discontinue the BS programme as it deviated from the 10+2+3 system specified in the National Policy on Education. On the HRD ministry’s instructions, the UGC had similarly asked Delhi University to discontinue its four-year undergraduate programme.

“Indian Institute of Science is one of the best institutions devoted to higher education and research. Higher authorities should deal with such an institution with some affection and respect,” Rao, awarded a Bharat Ratna this year, said.

The IISc has written to the UGC to reconsider its decision. It has said that its four-year course was oriented towards research and was unlike general under-graduate programmes offered by other universities.

Official sources said the UGC has suggested that the IISc should tweak the format of its course and rename it BSc (Research). The first three years could be devoted to a general BSc course as offered by other universities, and the fourth to research, which could be optional.

Students could then exit the course after three years if they wished. If they chose to continue for the fourth year, they would be awarded a BSc (Research) degree. They would also get credit points that would help them get direct admission into a PhD programme.

The institute has yet to accept the suggestion.

A UGC official said the BS course was not among the specified programmes listed by the higher education regulator last month. Under Section 22 of the UGC Act, the commission has the power to specify the name and duration of degrees.

In 2009, the UGC had brought out a list of courses, which provided for the BS programme. The IISc may well cite that notification to say that the BS course was started when it was legally allowed and insist that last month’s list should not be implemented retrospectively.