New Delhi, Aug 27: Amid a raging controversy over its directive to the IITs to align their degrees with recognised ones, UGC has made it clear that the communication should not be "misconstrued" as an encroachment on the autonomy of IITs.
It said the provision for specification of degrees by UGC was a "conscious" decision taken by the Centre for a number of reasons that not only includes ensuring the uniformity in terms of an award of degrees, but also for the purposes of employability and mobility of the students across the country. "Each and every degree awarding institution has full autonomy to offer the kind of program that their statutory bodies deem fit," the UGC said.
"But if a particular degree that they wish to award is not in the list of specified degrees the same can be added in the list after obtaining the approval of the central government following the due process," it said in clarification. The clarification came in the wake of IITs heads expressing "surprise" over the directive to them as they are governed by their set of rules and laws.
UGC Chairman Ved Prakash asked where is the question of encroaching upon the authority of IITs or any other institution as the Commission has been given the authority of specifying degrees by the government of India. "It is a question of ensuring uniformity in nomenclature of degrees. It is a question of facilitating mobility of students from one institution to another. It is a question of ensuring employability," he said.
IIT-Kanpur offers four-year undergraduate programmes such as Bachelors in Science (BS) in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Economics while UGC's list of recognised degrees only allows for a four-year BSc degree.
The UGC clarification referred to section 22 of UGC Act which said "degree means any such degrees as may, with the previous approval of the Central Government, be specified in this behalf by the Commission by notification in the official Gazette."
"Unfortunately, the aforementioned communication of the UGC has been misconstrued as an encroachment on the autonomy of Institutions of higher learning especially the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)," it said.
The UGC letter, Prakash said, was a routine letter sent to all the degree-awarding institutions along with the Gazette Notification issued on July 5. The HRD Ministry, on the other hand, appeared to be favouring UGC in this latest row as in a comment it has underlined the fact that the expression 'degrees' is not defined in the IIT Act, 1961.
It, however, has favoured a joint review of the IIT degrees both by UGC and IIT and arrive at an appropriate solution keeping student interests at stake.