IITs need UGC nod to open new programmes

The move follows UGC’s face-off with Delhi University over the varsity’s four-year undergraduate course


File picture of IIT Kharagpur, which has protested UGC’s directive. The order means that if, for instance, an IIT wants to start a four-year undergraduate course, it will need the prior approval of the education regulator. Photo: Indraneil Bhoumik/Mint
File picture of IIT Kharagpur, which has protested UGC’s directive. The order means that if, for instance, an IIT wants to start a four-year undergraduate course, it will need the prior approval of the education regulator. Photo: Indraneil Bhoumik/Mint

New Delhi: Apex education regulator the University Grants Commission (UGC) has told the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) they will need to get its approval for opening or fixing the tenure of new degree programmes, drawing protests from IIT Kharagpur.

The UGC has sent letters to all the 16 IITs, along with a gazette notification of 5 July in which it has mentioned the approved courses. The move follows UGC’s face-off with Delhi University over the varsity’s four-year undergraduate course.

The order means that if, for instance, an IIT wants to start a four-year undergraduate course, it will need the prior approval of UGC. IIT Kanpur already has such a programme. IITs are unhappy about the UGC circular, and some have told the human resources development (HRD) ministry about it, at least two government officials said.

“If a university wishes to award a degree other than the one specified by UGC or change the duration of the course” specified as minimum in gazette notification, “it shall approach UGC for approval six months prior to starting the programme with full justification on the course to be started”, the circular said.

A letter written by IIT-Kharagpur to the higher education department said since IITs were created by an Act of Parliament, they are not governed by UGC and do not need approval to “institute course of study”.

Though Mint could not reach IIT Kharagpur immediately, a senior administrator at one of the older IITs confirmed the development and said all the IITs will take up the matter in their meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday.

Mukherjee is meeting representatives of all IITs to discuss how they can contribute to the development of the nation through community engagements. HRD minister Smriti Irani and senior officers of the ministry will be present.

The ministry has reviewed the position of both the UGC Act 1956 and the IIT Act 1961, and is believed to take the stand that both should be seen in a “harmonious manner rather than to the exclusion of other”, said one of the two officials cited above.

“It will be appropriate at this stage if director of IIT Kharagpur lists various degrees he feels are not in conformity with the list of UGC specified degrees,” an internal ministry note said. The ministry is understood to have advised that the position of both have to be reviewed jointly by IIT Kharagpur and UGC and an appropriate solution needs to be worked out considering the “students’ interest at stake”.

During its face-off with Delhi University, the apex regulator had said all institutes of higher education have to comply with the country’s education policy which advocates a 10+2+3 formula. Only those courses which are approved by UGC to exceed that tenure are allowed. It means IITs will not face any problem in their four-year B-Tech or two-year M-Tech programmes as these are valid under the UGC Act but will have to seek UGC approval if they want to open new degree courses on their own or change the duration of the already approved programmes.

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