Stop one-year PG degrees: HRD Ministry to IIMs

The HRD ministry says one-year executive MBAs degrees violate UGC regulations.

NEW DELHI: The HRD ministry has conveyed to Indian Institutes of Management that awarding degrees for one-year MBA violated UGC rules and asked them to immediately take corrective action, a year after IIMs started the practice.

Backed by legal opinion from the law ministry, HRD ministry’s communication to all IIM directors on Friday said, “IIMs have been awarding degrees such as the one year executive MBA degree in violation of the UGC regulations” and ‘directed’ them to act as per degree granting norms of the University Grants Commission, Act , 1956, ET has reliably learnt. UGC norms allow Master’s degree only for two year courses as per the 3+2 higher education format. One year courses are referred to as post graduate diplomas, unlike in many western nations which follow a 4+1 format with one year Master’s degree on offer.

While IIMs have been keen to award degrees for the one year programme in view of global competition, the issue became contentious in the last few years as the precedent it could set for higher education in India. After the IIM Act, 2017, allowed degree granting power to the business schools, top IIMs brought in new regulations at their board of governors level to permit awarding of degrees for their popular one year MBA course.


The HRD ministry objected to the degree in 2018 and 2019 through official communications and meetings of the IIMs’ boards of governors. However, IIMs went ahead with the degree, with IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta and IIM Indore all offering them. The issue took a fresh twist with the law ministry saying that the move violated norms after vetting the regulations that were sent in for approval. The law ministry has said IIMs had power to grant degrees, diplomas and other academic distinctions but the IIM Act, 2017, did not define a ‘degree’ nor empower IIMs or the boards to make any regulations in this regard.

Government directions
The Law ministry has opined that while Section 7(f) and 11(2) (f) of the IIM Act, 2017 do empower IIMs to grant degrees, diplomas and other academic distinctions, this Act does not define a ‘degree’. Also the IIM Act, 2017 does not empower the IIMs and their Boards to make any regulations in this regard.

Section 7(b) of the IIM Act permits IIMs to admit students to various courses of study but “in conformity with the laws for the time being in force”.
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The Department of Legal Affairs, Law ministry has accordingly assessed that “for award of MBA degree to participants of one year Post Graduate Programme in Management in Executive, the institutes are required to act in conformity of UGC Act, 1956”- the existing laws of the land.

Accordingly, the HRD ministry has written to IIM Directors saying that in view of the same, “all IIMs are directed to act as per the provisions of the IIM Act, 2017 and the interpretation of Department of Legal Affairs that in awarding degree, the institutes are required to act in conformity with UGC Act, 1956”.
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