In a significant policy shift, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has introduced a bi-annual admission model for universities across India, set to commence in the 2025-26 academic session.

Such an innovative approach allows universities to admit students twice a year, potentially revolutionizing the traditional admission system. This shift aims to provide significant advantages to students, addressing longstanding challenges and aligning with global educational practices.

What Are The Changes?

Previously, regulations permitted student admissions only once a year, typically in July/August for regular mode programs. However, the new UGC policy allows universities to admit students in either January/February or July/August sessions.

Last year, a similar bi-annual admission model was introduced for open and distance learning (ODL) and online modes. During this trial, nearly half a million students who would have otherwise waited an entire year were able to join programs in January. 

The “tremendous response and interest” from students in these ODL and online programs led the UGC council to extend the bi-annual admission policy to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offering regular mode programs.

While not mandatory, this policy provides colleges with the flexibility to increase student intake and introduce new programs in emerging fields. Institutions will need to amend their regulations to facilitate these admissions twice a year, following UGC guidelines.

The new bi-annual admission policy will be available for undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD courses. For postgraduate programs, the Central Universities Entrance Test (CUET) for PG courses is optional. Many universities admit students based on their own entrance exams or undergraduate marks.

With the new policy, these institutions can now offer bi-annual admissions for master’s programs. Similarly, for undergraduate programs, CUET (UG) is mandatory only for central universities. 

These universities use a combination of admission criteria including CUET (UG) scores, their entrance exams, and board exam marks. As Kumar noted, “If any university wants to start UG programmes in a second session, they are free to do it.” Additionally, the National Testing Agency (NTA) plans to conduct exams twice a year, further benefiting students by providing more opportunities to take entrance tests and secure admissions.

These changes are said to benefit the students.

Increased Flexibility and Choices for Students

The bi-annual admission policy offers students greater flexibility, addressing the needs of those who may miss the traditional July/August admission cycle due to various reasons such as delayed board results, health issues, or personal circumstances.

Now, students have the option to enroll in January/February, eliminating the need to wait an entire year to begin their studies. Professor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar emphasized, “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.”

This flexibility extends to undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD programs. For instance, PhD admissions, which previously only occurred in July, can now be conducted bi-annually, aligning with the UGC-NET’s twice-a-year schedule.

UGC Chairman Professor Kumar explained to The Indian Express, “For PhD admissions, currently all universities admit in July. We are conducting UGC-NET twice a year. So, universities can now begin to admit twice a year in PhD programmes.”

Read more: Watch: 5 Problems With The CUET Exam

Optimized Resource Utilization

Bi-annual admissions will also lead to more efficient use of university resources. Institutions can strategically allocate faculty, labs, classrooms, and support services to enhance the learning experience.

Kumar explained, “It is a choice for them…depending on the infrastructure that is available. For a science program, if they find that for the students admitted in the July session lab facilities are used in the daytime, they may want to use lab facilities in the evening for the session that began in January, so that there is better utilisation of resources available in universities.”

This strategic allocation ensures that resources are not underutilized and maximizes their potential. Kumar added, “HEIs can maximise the usefulness of biannual admissions only when they sufficiently prepare the faculty members, staff, and students for the transition.

Improved Campus Recruitment

The introduction of bi-annual admissions will result in a steady stream of graduates throughout the year, rather than a single annual influx. This will allow companies to plan recruitment drives more effectively, aligning their hiring needs with the availability of fresh talent.

Kumar noted, “Campus recruitment will also be given a push as they will be providing a steady stream of graduates throughout the year, rather than a single annual influx. This allows companies to plan recruitment drives more effectively, aligning their hiring needs with the availability of fresh talent.”

Staggered graduation periods will also reduce the pressure on college placement cells, enabling them to offer more personalized and effective career support for students. This continuous supply of graduates enhances employability, providing better job opportunities and reducing the wait time between graduation and employment.

Enhanced Global Competitiveness

Adopting a bi-annual admission cycle aligns Indian universities with global educational standards, enhancing their international collaborations and student exchange programs. Universities worldwide already follow this system, and by integrating it, Indian institutions can improve their global competitiveness.

Kumar emphasized, “Universities worldwide are already following the biannual admission system, and if Indian institutions adopt the biannual admission cycle, they can enhance their international collaborations and student exchanges.”

This alignment with global standards will benefit students by offering more opportunities for international exposure and collaboration, further enriching their educational experience. “As a result, our global competitiveness will improve, and we will align with the global educational standards,” Kumar added.

The UGC’s decision to implement bi-annual admissions marks a significant transformation in the Indian higher education system. By providing increased flexibility, optimizing resource utilization, improving campus recruitment, and enhancing global competitiveness, this policy offers substantial benefits to students.

However, successful implementation requires careful planning and preparation by universities to address administrative complexities and ensure a smooth transition for faculty, staff, and students alike.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources:  Firstpost, Indian Express, News 18

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under Indian universities, biannual admissions, policy shift, transformation, higher education, benefits, faculty, staff, students, infrastructure global education standards, M Jagadesh Kumar, UGC, NTA, campus recruitment, increased flexibility, resource utilization, change, undergraduate, postgraduate, PhD, admissions

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