The University Grants Commission (UGC) has done well to ask all universities to adhere to the provisions of the approved nomenclature of degrees and observance of minimum standards of instruction before awarding the degrees. The liberalisation and privatisation in the sector has of late prompted many universities—especially private and deemed universities—to offer degrees with fancy titles like animal biology (not the traditional zoology), plant biotechnology (instead of botany), MBE (Master in Business Economics) and so on. Such degrees create a lot of confusion when students enter the job market.
To drive home the point that it means business, the UGC has warned that violation of these provisions can invite penal action, including suspension of grants or derecognition of the institution. This will not only help the UGC enforce some degree of uniformity in higher education, but also address the problems students face in finding jobs or to secure a seat abroad for higher studies when lured into fancy sounding titles of the unspecified degrees. The UGC directive is not against innovation in higher education and starting multidisciplinary courses with new nomenclature. All it insists upon is that if a varsity wishes to award a degree other than the one specified by the UGC, it shall approach the commission for its nod six months prior to starting the degree programme with full explanation of the course to be started.
Problems of this ilk occur when people with little interest in academia enter the education “business” to make up for the shortfall of seats in the well-established institutions and start colleges and universities of their own. The malady starts even at the kindergarten level where there is a mushrooming of English-medium schools to cater to the present-day fascination for learning English. Unless the gap between the number of students entering the “market” and the number of respectable educational institutions is closed, the problem of the so-called capitation fees and degrees with weird names will persist.