New Delhi, Oct 27: A recent UGC guideline fixing five years as the timeframe for students to complete degree courses has come under sharp criticism from a Congress MP who has said that it would deprive the poor, especially those from backward communities, of opportunities.
Bhalchandra Mungekar, a Rajya Sabha MP and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD, has demanded that UGC chairman Ved Prakash be called before the panel to explain the decision and trashed the argument that the move was aimed at the standardisation of education in the country.
"This stipulation is not going to standardise education. This is a design of the government to blacken the future of the people," he told the committee at its meeting here today.
The development, he claimed, comes at a time when 40 per cent of the state universities are without vice chancellors and 30 per cent post are still lying vacant in central universities.
Instead of addressing these issues, the government is "brushing them under the carpet" with decisions which are "unprecedented" in nature, he charged while demanding that the guidelines be revoked immediately.
Claiming that the present dispensation has said that it vouches for federalism, Mungekar called for the universities to be left to themselves to take their decisions as per the prevailing conditions.
The UGC Chairman, however, has made it clear that the guidelines are recommendatory in nature and not binding on the institutions. "Universities are best-placed to decide what durations are required for developing competence and the skill expected of a candidate," he had said.
As per the new UGC guidelines, students pursuing degree- level courses would be given only two additional years to clear their backlog and one more year under "exceptional" circumstances.
UGC had said that the guidelines, communicated to all varsity vice-chancellors in the country, were aimed at bringing uniformity in the timespan in which a student is allowed to complete a degree programme.
That would mean that a student pursuing an undergraduate programme which normally runs for three, or four years (for technical courses), would be given two more years to clear his back papers. Likewise, students at the post-graduate level would be given as many years to clear their backlog, if any.