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UGC approves 2 admission cycles for Indian Universities: A game changer for Students

Biannual admissions in open and distance learning (ODL) and online modes in January and July during an academic year were allowed by UGC last year.

On 11th June, the University Grants Commission (UGC) allowed Universities and higher education institutions to offer admissions twice a year. The system of biannual admissions is common in foreign universities. With UGC’s go-ahead, Indian students will soon have the option to apply to a college twice a year. According to UGC Chief Jagadesh Kumar, there will be two admission cycles, that are July-August and January-February from 2024-25 academic sessions.

At the moment, universities and colleges in India offer only one admission cycle per year that falls in July-August. All the Higher Education Institutions in India follow the academic session that starts in July-August and ends in May-June.

Speaking to media, Jagadeesh Kumar said, “If Indian universities can offer admission twice a year, it will benefit many students such as those who missed admission to a university in the July-August session due to a delay in the announcement of board results, health issues, or personal reasons.”

He added, “If Indian universities can offer admission twice a year, it will benefit many students such as those who missed admission to a university in the July-August session due to a delay in the announcement of board results, health issues, or personal reasons.”

Kumar said that universities worldwide already follow a biannual admission system. If Indian Higher Education Institutes adopt this system, it will enhance such institutes’ international collaborations and student exchanges. “As a result, our global competitiveness will improve, and we will align with the global educational standards,” he added.

One of the main issues that universities may face while offering a biannual admission cycle is the availability of resources. Kumar emphasised that the institutes that already have the infrastructure and can realign it to provide admission options twice a year may opt for such a system. He said, “As a result, our global competitiveness will improve, and we will align with the global educational standards,” Kumar said”.

Notably, UGC has not mandated the biannual admission system. HEIs and Universities are free to continue with a single admission cycle as they do at the moment. Kumar said, “If HEIs adopt biannual admissions, they need to work on administrative intricacies, good planning for increased use of available resources, and providing seamless support systems for the smooth transition of students admitted at dissimilar times of the year. HEIs can maximize the usefulness of biannual admissions only when they sufficiently prepare faculty members, staff and students for the transition.”

Interestingly, biannual admissions in open and distance learning (ODL) and online modes in January and July during an academic year were allowed by UGC last year. Kumar said that after UGC allowed biannual admissions last year, HEIs informed on the UGC portal that a total of 19,73,056 students enrolled in July (regular cycle) and an additional 4,28,854 students joined in January 2023 in ODL and online programs. Around 22% of additional admissions was a notable boost for the institutions.

Mixed reaction from universities

Though the decision is a welcoming move for the students, UGC’s announcement received mixed reactions from universities as they expressed concerns that the current academic structure is not suited for such an arrangement. Speaking to Hindustan Times, an unnamed Delhi University official said, “We are dependent on the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), which is conducted around May. UGC has not given any clear guidelines on whether the January admission cycle will happen through CUET or entrance exams.”

The concern was addressed by Kumar who said that it will be up to the universities to decide their admission process.

Amity University Vice Chancellor Balvinder Shukla although seemed happy with the decision, he too expressed concerns about the Indian institutions having the required infrastructure for the biannual admission cycle. He said, “There are a lot of things to consider before jumping into a decision. Moreover, school academic sessions and the beginning of college admissions are aligned in a certain way. There is a possibility that applications during the January cycle will be very low.”

Experts believe that universities have to come up with meticulous planning to implement a biannual admission cycle. However, they added that such an arrangement is “in sync with the National Education Policy (NEP) and will only bring us closer to international standards”.

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