Analysing the recent UGC notification on the UG Honour’s degree with research

The UGC’s new notification opens up a range of opportunities for those interested in research even at the undergraduate level

Updated - May 18, 2024 12:27 pm IST

Published - May 18, 2024 12:07 pm IST

This approach will eventually allow the UG curriculum and credit structure to align with similar UG programmes across the globe.

This approach will eventually allow the UG curriculum and credit structure to align with similar UG programmes across the globe. | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The belief that research is connected with years of academic experience — i.e. only those at a ripe age can be involved in research or have the ability to think and innovate — is a misconception. A doctorate is not the culmination of research but the beginning of intensive work. Many remain academically non-productive after a Ph.D. but the awarding of the degree should lead to more clarity in the process, quality paper publications, executing funded research projects, filing of patents, enabling transformation of research to plausible products in Science and Technology. Decades ago, there was a possibility of acquiring a postgraduate degree through research and those with exceptional publications could end up with a Ph.D. without a Research Supervisor.

Thus the recent notification by the University Grants Commission (UGC) enabling a four-year undergraduate degree holder to register directly for a Ph.D. programme and to appear for the NET is a positive step in the right direction. The National Education Policy In the NEP 2020 allows a student to opt for either a four- or a three-year UG programme. The former is called a Honour’s degree with a research specialisation, as the student has to opt for a research project or dissertation in the final year, This will be in the major discipline and be guided by a faculty member. For successful students, the PG programme will be for a year instead of two. Those who complete the Honour’s degree with a CGPA of 7.5/10 and 160 credits can directly enroll in Ph.D. programmes without having to complete a Master’s degree. Students who come under the non-creamy layer or differently-abled or EWS have a relaxation of marks for admission to research programme, as mandated by the UGC.

According to the UGC, the four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme allows students to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education, apart from being able to focus on the chosen major and minor subjects. Not only will this give them a sound understanding of the foundational or core courses but also the benefit of value-added courses, electives, soft skill courses, regional and foreign languages, and internships.

This approach will eventually allow the UG curriculum and credit structure to align with similar UG programmes across the globe, in terms of standards and international parity, thereby increasing prospects for Indian students seeking higher education opportunities abroad.

However, the departments offering the Honours with Research degree must have the required infrastructure such as libraries with access to journals, computer labs, lab facilities for experimental research work and at least two permanent faculty members who are recognised Ph.D. supervisors. The UGC has also said that those departments that are already recognised for Ph.D. programmes may conduct this UG degree without further approvals from the affiliating university.

In addition to opening up new vistas of Master’s programme abroad, it will also enable UG students to join institutes of quality within the country for research. Further exploration can be done on whether the research area has to be necessarily in the foundation course or in any course that the candidate has studied and has the confidence, necessary eligibility, and credits to take up research. The Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) that works in this new framework helps them choose the right combination to get to the desired outcome through research.

With respect to challenges in professional programmes, such as Nursing, Physiotherapy, or Optometry, and those UG programmes that already have a four-year plan, appropriate amendments are required in their curriculum to facilitate research.

The writer is Pro Vice-Chancellor Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science Deemed-to-be University, Chennai.

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