UGC Initiates Biannual Admissions: Paving the Way for Flexibility or Fueling Faculty Concerns?

The UGC's recent decision allows student admissions in two cycles, January/February and July/August, starting next academic session.
UGC Initiates Biannual Admissions: Paving the Way for Flexibility or Fueling Faculty Concerns?

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced a significant reform, permitting higher education institutions to conduct admissions twice a year. Previously, admissions were confined to the July-August period. However, with the recent decision by the UGC, institutions can now admit students in two cycles: January/February and July/August, starting from the upcoming academic session.

This change aims to offer greater flexibility for both institutions and students. It seeks to address various academic and logistical needs, potentially streamlining the admission process and alleviating pressure on infrastructure and faculty during peak periods.

Moreover, the introduction of dual admission cycles provides students who miss the traditional admission window with another opportunity to enroll without waiting for an entire year.

The UGC's decision grants autonomy to institutions to choose whether to implement both admission cycles or adhere to just one. This decision will hinge on their individual capacity, including infrastructure and faculty availability.

According to a report by The Indian Express, UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar has praised the new changes.

Kumar emphasized that this new system particularly benefits students who have faced challenges such as health issues, delays in board exam results, or personal reasons, leading to their inability to secure admissions during the traditional July/August session.

With admissions now available twice a year, these students have the opportunity to apply earlier and pursue their education without prolonged delays.

Moreover, Kumar highlighted that many universities abroad already employ a biannual admission system. By embracing a similar approach in Indian institutions, not only do we align with international standards, but we also enhance the potential for international collaborations and student exchanges, thereby enriching the academic landscape for Indian students.

In addition to catering to student needs and enhancing academic flexibility, Kumar underscored the potential of the biannual admission system to boost the 'gross enrollment ratio' (GER) in higher education.

With more frequent admissions, institutions can potentially attract a wider range of students, thereby contributing to higher GER figures—an essential metric for evaluating educational accessibility and participation rates.

DU to Begin Biannual Admissions Amid Concerns

Delhi University (DU) is gearing up to introduce a biannual admission process on a trial basis, starting from the forthcoming academic session, as announced by Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh on June 12.

However, Singh clarified that DU won't be implementing this change in the current academic session, citing the ongoing admission procedures already in progress at the university.

Nevertheless, some faculty members have expressed reservations regarding the decision.

Mithuraaj Dhusiya, an elected member of the Academic Council of Delhi University, voiced concerns, stating, "Many colleges within Delhi University lack the infrastructure and resources necessary to facilitate admissions twice a year for undergraduate programs. The UGC's decision, made without soliciting feedback from stakeholders, may precipitate a significant crisis for both students and educators in higher education institutions."

“It's concerning to witness policies being announced without addressing stakeholders' apprehensions regarding their feasibility and potential impact on educational quality,” remarked Abha Dev Habib, Secretary of the Democratic Teachers' Front.

She and Professor Nandita Narain, President of the Democratic Teachers' Front, argue that central universities, particularly DU, have been utilized as testing grounds for ill-considered educational policies for more than a decade.

Financial limitations were underscored, with a mention that central universities, including the Delhi University, have not received additional funds for the EWS Expansion 2019 or the Four-Year UG Programme under NEP 2020, potentially straining resources significantly.

Concerns regarding CUET-based admissions were also addressed, noting that numerous seats remained vacant despite extended admission periods.

The crux of the matter, they argued, lies in delays and inefficiencies stemming from excessive centralization and a lack of institutional autonomy.

The policy is viewed as superficially addressing these concerns, with apprehensions that it could precipitate a shift from traditional in-person teaching to online instruction, potentially undermining educational quality.

What Are Other Universities Saying?

As per a report by The Hindu, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University Vice-Chancellor Anu Lather voiced her support for the UGC's biannual admission policy, highlighting the need for additional infrastructure, faculty, and staff to ensure its successful implementation. Lather underscored the necessity of substantial resource allocation to effectively accommodate the new system.

Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Vice-Chancellor Mahesh Verma also expressed interest in the concept but pointed out the logistical hurdles involved. Verma indicated that the university would deliberate on the issue during their upcoming academic council meeting.

While acknowledging the potential benefits of the policy, Verma emphasized the importance of devising a new admission system to manage biannual admissions efficiently.

Similarly, Mohammad Shakeel, acting vice-chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia, stated that the matter would be discussed in their upcoming executive council meeting.

Shakeel's remarks indicate that while the policy is under consideration, thorough deliberations and strategic planning are deemed necessary to assess its feasibility and implementation strategies.

Overall, the responses from these vice-chancellors reflect a cautious optimism towards the UGC's biannual admission policy, recognizing its potential advantages while also acknowledging the significant logistical and infrastructural challenges it entails.

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