The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently instructed its affiliated universities and colleges to introduce a compulsory subject on environmental studies at all branches of undergraduate degree.
Under the guidelines released by the UGC, environmental education will include areas such as climate change, pollution, sanitation, waste management, conservation of biological diversity, sustainable development, forest and wildlife conservation, management of biological resources and biodiversity.
The UGC issued these guidelines on the direction of the Union Ministry of Education.
The UGC said that they have sent official guidelines in this regard to all the universities of the country through a notification. These guidelines state that environmental education should be included as a main subject in all undergraduate programmes.
"The Education Ministry’s online platform ‘SWAYAM’ is also offering videos and e-content for the subject," the UGC said.
According to the Education Ministry, various higher educational institutions across the country can use the teaching material available on the online platform.
The Education Ministry said that the curriculum of environmental education is of multidisciplinary nature. This is the reason that higher educational institutions across the country can choose the methodology and process of their choice to implement this subject.
"The basic objective of this programme is to create awareness among the students about the environment, in such a situation, due to the multidisciplinary nature, the universities will get the freedom to choose according to their compatibility."
The UGC said that this environment-related subject is based on the learning outcome. Also, the guidelines issued in this regard are in accordance with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The UGC believes that the guidelines emphasise on making environmental education an important part of the degree programme at the undergraduate level. The curriculum also encourages environmental awareness and sensitivity towards its protection and sustainable development.
Besides this, another important step has been taken in the field of higher education. Under this, students will be awarded a degree if they achieve the required credits for their degree programme before the stipulated time of four years.
According to the UGC, "If a student has earned all the required credits for a four-year programme in three and a half years, then that student should be considered eligible for that degree."
Currently, students get an honours degree after completing three years of undergraduate programmes.
Under the National Education Policy 2020, the UGC constituted a committee to review the nomenclature of degrees.
"The new four-year undergraduate degree programme for Science stream may be introduced as Bachelor of Science (BS) degree," the UGC said.
As per the commitee’s recommendation, now the degree programmes with arts stream may known as BA Hons with Research and commerce steam as BCom Hons with Research. Further, the expert committee has recommended the discontinuation of MPhil programmes.