MS or MSc? Debate on degree name
New Delhi, Jan. 17: A notification by the technical education regulator AICTE equating MS (Master of Science) degrees awarded by IITs and NITs with MTech has triggered a debate about an earlier UGC order that MS can only stand for Master of Surgery.
The UGC in 2014 had barred institutions from using the nomenclatures MS and BS for Master of Science and Bachelor of Science courses respectively.
The All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) last week said in a notification that MS degrees awarded by institutions of national importance (INI), such as IITs and NITs, are to be treated as equivalent to MTech if the basic degree is BTech.
"The MS degree shall be considered equivalent to ME/ MTech for all purposes provided MS degree has been acquired from INI as recognised by MHRD (ministry of human resource development) and the basic degrees should be BE/ BTech in relevant branch," the notification said.
The UGC's notification on Specification of Degrees issued in July 2014 had, on the other hand, said MS stands for Master of Surgery and MSc is the correct nomenclature for Master of Science. It had asked institutions to change their BS (Bachelor of Science) and MS nomenclatures to BSc and MSc respectively.
UGC sources argued that MS was the accepted nomenclature for a degree in medicine in India. If MS was used to stand for Master of Science, it could create confusion.
Under the UGC Act, the UGC with the approval of the government notifies nomenclature of degrees to be awarded by institutions.
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, which was offering BS degrees, changed the nomenclature to Bachelor of Science (Research). However, the IITs contested the UGC's notification arguing that they are empowered by their respective Acts to design and offer courses.
A parent whose son is studying in the Bachelor of Science (Research) programme at IISc Bangalore said that institute, too, should be allowed to offer BS degrees since the AICTE has accepted MS for Master of Science.
"After this AICTE notification, MS is now a recognised nomenclature for Master of Science. Since MS is accepted, the BS should be accepted nomenclature for Bachelor of Science," he said.
Several parents have written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention to restore the BS degree, he said.
"You have to protect qualified students in premier institutions. Public perception about BSc is poor. These students in IISc have chosen to pursue the courses specially oriented towards research. You cannot equate it with any other BSc course," the parent said.
AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said the MS course offered by IITs or NITs would be treated as MTech.
"They are centrally funded institutions. For us, their MS signifies MSc which is equivalent to MTech," he said.
After the IITs protested, the HRD ministry had set up a panel headed by the higher education secretary to suggest a way forward. The committee has held two meetings. It is set to recommend that the ministry ask the UGC to notify the nomenclatures for innovative programmes and durations prescribed by IITs, sources said.