Indian Universities Embrace Biannual Admissions: Ushering in Flexibility and Opportunity

Universities and higher education institutions in India will now be able to admit students twice a year, aligning with the admission processes of many universities abroad. This announcement was made by University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Jagadeesh Kumar.

The two admission cycles will be held in July-August and January-February, starting from the 2024-25 academic session.

“If Indian universities can offer admission twice a year, it will benefit many students, including those who missed admission in the July-August session due to delays in board results, health issues, or personal reasons. Biannual university admissions will help students maintain motivation since they won’t have to wait a full year if they miss the current cycle,” said UGC Chairman Kumar on Tuesday.

Currently, UGC regulations allow Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to admit students once a year, starting in July-August. The academic session spans twelve months, from July-August to May-June.

In its 571st commission meeting held on July 25, 2023, UGC decided to permit biannual admissions under Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and online modes in January and July of each academic year.

According to data from the UGC DEB portal, in addition to 19,73,056 students enrolled in July 2022, an additional 4,28,854 students joined in January 2023 in ODL and online programs.

Considering the positive response and high interest from students in ODL and online programs, UGC made a policy decision in its meeting on May 15 to allow HEIs offering regular programs to admit students twice a year, either in January-February or July-August, starting from the upcoming academic year, the UGC chairman stated.

Institutions with the required infrastructure and teaching faculty can take advantage of this opportunity to admit students biannually. However, offering biannual admissions is not mandatory for HEIs. It is a flexible option provided by UGC for HEIs looking to increase their student intake and offer new programs in emerging fields. To implement biannual admissions, HEIs must amend their institutional regulations accordingly.

UGC Chairman Kumar emphasized, “With biannual admissions in place, industries can also conduct campus recruitment twice a year, improving employment opportunities for graduates.”

Biannual admissions will also enable HEIs to plan their resource distribution—such as faculty, labs, classrooms, and support services—more efficiently, resulting in better functional flow within the university, he noted.

Highlighting that universities worldwide already follow a biannual admission system, Kumar stated that adopting this cycle in Indian institutions will enhance international collaborations and student exchanges. “As a result, our global competitiveness will improve, and we will align with global educational standards,” he added.

Biannual admissions can significantly increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio and make India a ‘Global Study Destination,’ as envisioned in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Kumar said.

He further mentioned that for HEIs to successfully adopt biannual admissions, they need to address administrative complexities, plan for increased resource utilization, and provide seamless support systems for students admitted at different times of the year.

“HEIs can maximize the benefits of biannual admissions only with sufficient preparation of faculty members, staff, and students for the transition,” Kumar concluded.

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