Observing that the issue of whether the students can be permitted to pursue dual degree courses simultaneously in the same academic year has been vexed with the UGC for several years, the full bench comprising Justice V Bharathidasan, Justice M Dhandapani and Justice PT Asha held, “indisputably, most of the students obtain their second degree through distance education and students are not permitted to undergo a second-degree programme formally in the same academic year.”
“In such circumstances, unless simultaneous degrees obtained are recognised by the UGC with the prior approval of the central government, such degrees cannot be considered as recognised degrees as per Section 22 of the UGC Act,” the full bench held.
“As of now, the UGC has not recognised pursuing dual degree courses simultaneously during the same academic year. Therefore, till dual degree courses are recognized by the UGC, such degrees conferred by the universities cannot be construed as per the provisions of the UGC Act.”
Also, on recording UGC’s stand that in view of the New Education Policy, 2020, it is bound to review the entire mechanism for the conduct of two-degree courses and allow students to pursue more than one degree simultaneously, the bench held, “It is clear that as of now, pursuing dual degree courses, one through regular mode and the other through distance education or otherwise than the regular stream, during the same academic year has not been recognised by the UGC.”
The reference to the full bench had risen following conflicting judgements in this regard. While a division bench had held that the two degrees obtained simultaneously in the same academic year was not recognised by the University of Madras, another division bench held in a similar case that there were no strict rules prohibiting the students to pursue two-degree simultaneously.