News Brief

Breaking Tradition: UGC Allows Universities To Enrol Students Twice Annually

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 11, 2024, 03:43 PM | Updated 03:43 PM IST

University Grants Commission (Picture Source:- UGC web)
University Grants Commission (Picture Source:- UGC web)

In a significant shift for Indian higher education, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced that institutions can now admit students twice a year, a move aimed at increasing flexibility and expanding access.

Earlier, admissions to higher education institutions were confined to the July-August window, but starting from the upcoming academic session, universities can also enrol students in January-February too.

This decision grants institutions the autonomy to choose whether to adopt the biannual admission cycle based on their resources and faculty availability.

This policy change aims to align Indian higher education with global practices and potentially boost the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by offering students multiple opportunities to begin their studies each year.

The UGC has said that biannual admissions are not mandatory, but the decision now provides “flexibility” to institutions that might want to “increase their student intake and offer new programmes in emerging areas.”

"Every university offers admissions in July/August. In addition to this, if they wish to offer programmes in January, they are welcome to," UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

"A majority of the universities globally offer admissions in July/August. So, it is unlikely that they will stop that and start admissions only in January," Kumar added.

Kumar emphasised that the UGC's role is to provide a "broader regulatory framework", allowing universities to determine the specifics.

On whether universities may now be able to offer admissions to different sets of courses in the two admission cycles, he said, “It is a choice for them…depending on the infrastructure that is available. For a science programme, if they find that for the students admitted in the July session lab facilities are used in the daytime, they may want to use lab facilities in the evening for the session that began in January, so that there is better utilisation of resources available in universities.”

The UGC first attempted this biannual admission process with open and distance learning (ODL), and online mode programmes.

According to Kumar, nearly half a million students who might have had to wait a full year to begin their studies were able to start in January during these trials.

“There is a possibility that even in the physical mode, students who have missed admissions for various reasons in July/August, will have the opportunity to join in January instead of waiting for one full year. It is also a global practice. It also has the potential to increase the GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) also,” he noted.

Universities planning to adopt the biannual system will need to secure approval from their academic and executive councils and amend their institutional regulations.

The new admission cycles apply to PhD, postgraduate, and undergraduate programmes.

Addressing the impact on entrance exams, Kumar said, "For PhD admissions, currently all universities admit in July. We are conducting UGC-NET twice a year. So, universities can now begin to admit twice a year in PhD programmes."

For postgraduate programmes, the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-PG) remains optional, with many institutions relying on their own entrance exams or undergraduate marks.

The same flexibility applies to undergraduate programmes, where CUET-UG is not mandatory for non-central universities.

Kumar added, "Entrance exams are now technology-driven. Ideally, if they are conducted twice a year, it will be beneficial to students. One-by-one we are trying to implement that. Over a period of time, I hope we will have most entrance exams conducted by the NTA twice in a year."

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Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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