Last month, the University Grants Commission (UGC) allowed students to pursue two full-time academic programmes simultaneously. Students can either choose a combination of a diploma programme and an undergraduate (UG) degree, two master’s programmes, or two bachelor’s programmes. If a student is eligible to pursue a postgraduate (PG) degree and also wants to enrol in a bachelor’s degree in a different domain, he/she will be able to pursue a UG and PG degree simultaneously.
The class timing for both the programmes must not clash.The permitted combination of subjects will vary from one university to another, as different universities set different criteria for admissions. But it will be possible for a student to pursue a degree in humanities and sciences at once, or two degrees falling in the same stream. For example, if a student is enrolled in a BSc Physics degree and also wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he/she will be allowed to do so, or a BCom and BA simultaneously, provided class timings don’t clash.
These guidelines don’t apply to MPhil and PhD programmes.Ruchir Arora, co-founder & CEO of CollegeDekho, a career guidance platform, told FE that countries like Australia, the UK, Singapore, the US and Canada already offer dual degree programmes. “Universities identify and package two courses so that it is easier for students to choose,” he said.In India, technical and management institutes have been offering dual degree programmes for many years, but these are different from what the UGC has allowed.We talked to the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM Ahmedabad) and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) to understand what they have been offering:
At IIM Ahmedabad, dual degrees are different from student exchange programmes.Under student exchange, which IIM Ahmedabad runs with 75-odd foreign schools, IIM students go abroad for a semester and students from partner schools come to India for the same duration.Under dual degree, students of partner institutes attend a full year at IIM Ahmedabad, and vice versa. They get two degrees (one from IIM Ahmedabad and another from the partner institute). These institutes are seven in number:
1. ESCP-Europe Business School, France
2. ESSEC, Cedex, France
3. European Business School (EBS), Oestrich-Winkel, Germany
4. HEC School of Management, Paris, France
5. University of Bocconi, Milano, Italy
6. University of Cologne, Germany
7. Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria
Prof Pradyumana Khokle, dean, Programmes, IIM Ahmedabad, told FE that dual degrees help in broad-basing an institute’s engagement with its partner institution. “Student exchange programmes tend to have academics as their focus.
Dual degrees, on the other hand, allow a more immersive experience both academically and culturally. These allow students to study in another academic context that is equally rigorous but different at the same time,” he said. “To achieve this, both institutes undertake detailed due diligence to maintain parity in academics, extracurricular activities, opportunities, placements, etc, to ensure that students from partner institutes can make the most of their time regardless of which campus they are on.”Dual degrees also open avenues for students’ personal and professional growth.
During their stay at the partner institute, they get the opportunity to learn from and engage with specialised faculty members, sometimes in areas that may not be available at their parent institute. They also learn new study practices, seek placement assistance from the partner institute and gain a deeper understanding of global markets and its requirements. On graduating, they are connected to the alumni networks of both the institutes.
All this helps them grow into global leaders.But not all IIM Ahmedabad students can opt for a dual degree or student exchange. Prof Khokle said that application to exchange programme is possible for only up to one-third of the batch size, and exchange of students for dual degrees is typically limited to up to five students per partner institute.
Prof Preeti Aghalayam, advisor, Global Academic Programs, and professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, told FE that IIT Madras offers what are called joint doctoral programmes (JDP) with several foreign universities. “For JDP, two separate degree certificates may be awarded by the respective institutes.
However, the wording in both the degree certificates must indicate unambiguously that the degree is being awarded jointly with the partner institute (by name) for the same thesis,” Prof Aghalayam said.The first JDP was signed with the National University of Singapore in 2008, and as of now IIT Madras has 19 JDPs: Australia (7), Canada (1), Finland (1), Germany (3), Singapore (2), Taiwan (2) and the US (1).
These JDP partners are:Australia (Australian National University, Deakin University, Queensland University of Technology, Curtin University, University of Technology Sydney, University of Melbourne, and Swinburne University)Canada (University of Alberta)Finland (Aalto University)France (Ecole Centrale De Nantes and University of Bordeaux)Germany (RWTH Aachen, University of Duisburg and University of Passau)Singapore (Nanyang Technical University and National University of Singapore)Taiwan (National Chiao Tung University and National Tsing Hua University)USA (Michigan State University)
How institutes benefit: Prof Aghalayam said these JDPs have improved research collaboration between IIT Madras and partner universities. “We expect these to grow in number of agreements, depth and effectiveness of the collaboration, going forward,” she said.
How students benefit: They benefit from the exposure they get at partner university (and vice versa), improving the quality of their thesis. Also, the JDP is open to all doctoral students of IIT Madras. They have to identify a co-supervisor in the partner university.