India may phase out M.Phil degrees from academic institutions and allow students to pursue a doctorate programme after a four-year graduation course.
“The M.Phil programme shall be discontinued," says the final draft of the new education policy prepared by the human resource development (HRD) ministry.
“Undertaking a Ph.D shall require either a master’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree with research," the draft says. Mint has seen a copy of the final draft, which will soon go to the cabinet for approval.
This comes with M.Phil, an advanced master’s degree, gradually losing popularity and the government seeking to introduce a research component in graduation and restructure some of the higher education courses. The final draft of the new policy, which seeks to replace the one that has been in place for almost 30 years, underlines that the structure and length of degrees in colleges and universities may be adjusted.
The undergraduate degree will be of either three or four-year duration. According to the final draft, higher educational institutions may offer multiple exit options within this period, with appropriate certifications. For example, an advanced diploma in a discipline or ﬁeld, including in vocational and professional areas, could be given after completion of two years of study and a diploma after completion of one year.
“The four-year programme will provide students the opportunity to experience the full range of liberal arts education. This will be called the bachelor of liberal arts (BLA) or bachelor of liberal education (BLE) in the chosen major and minors. Both programmes may lead to a degree ‘with research’, if the student completes a rigorous research project as specified by the institution. The three-year programme will lead to a bachelor’s degree. Higher educational institutions may choose to call their three-year undergraduate degree a bachelor of arts, or science, or vocational, or the appropriate professional ﬁeld," says the final draft.
“There are two components so far as M.Phil and Ph.D degrees are concerned. One, M.Phil will most likely go and, second, a research component will be introduced in the fourth year of graduation and that will make a student eligible to pursue research. While Ph.D after graduation is not allowed in universities, IITs have a provision to enrol students in Ph.D after their four-year bachelor in technology (B.Tech) courses," said a government official who did not want to be named.
M.Phil has seen declining enrolment in the last few years, indicating that it may be losing popularity, said the official. According to official data, in 2016-17, while 43,267 students took admission in M.Phil courses, the number declined to 34,109 in 2017-18. In 2018-19, 30,692 students including 19,069 female students enrolled for the M.Phil courses across the country. Among states, Tamil Nadu had the highest M.Phil enrolment (12,425), followed by Delhi (5,086), and Maharashtra (2,172). The two states and one Union territory effectively account for two-thirds of the total enrolment, according to official data.
India has been working on a new national education policy for the past five years. A final report by the K. Kasturirangan Committee on the new education policy was made public on 31 May. The HRD ministry and its committees have had more than 115,000 meetings and, since June, have received more than 200,000 public suggestions. The ministry has been working on the report since June 2019 to prepare the final policy draft, which will be notified after being cleared by the Union cabinet.
The Indian education system is one of the largest in the world with nearly 300 million students pursuing education at more than 1.4 million schools and over 49,000 colleges, as well as more than 900 universities.