New RCI Guidelines Leave Students With Uncertainty; Receives Mixed Reactions

New RCI Guidelines Leave Students With Uncertainty; Receives Mixed Reactions

With the introduction of the new course, the careers of those who graduated earlier now face a challenge

Sunidhi VijayUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 12:30 PM IST
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The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) recently released a list of guidelines to regulate psychology courses in the country. The guideline has been issued for BSc Clinical Psychology (Hons), which is said to be implemented from the current academic year.

The onset of a fresh four-year BSc Clinical Psychology (Hons) course has confused the students about the existing courses and the future of Indian psychologists.

Earlier, a student needed to clear a bachelor’s, followed by a master's degree in psychology, to practice as a therapist, while now, with the four-year BSc course, one can practice psychology right after college since it is a licensed programme. 

This has left the current batch of students and fresh graduates in doubt about their careers. Many believe that if all the current psychologists are left unlicensed, while the recent batch gets recognised it will somehow deter their credibility.

Arya Kanhere, an MSc psychology student from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, said, “If such major changes are being introduced, the authority needs to be clear and also talk about existing students and professionals who are stuck in the middle of the change.”

Nidhi Mehra, a BA psychology graduate, highlighted that they have invested equal efforts to attain a degree in this field. “I believe that it is a good decision, however, this is not at all keeping the BA and MA students in mind. I just feel that this will greatly undermine the counselling psychologists in the country,” Mehra added.

Students also feel that RCI should introduce a bridge course for recent graduates and current students of BSc in psychology to help them attain the same level as those who will be admitted to the new course. 

Khushi Vijayvergiya, a recent graduate of BSc applied psychology from NMIMS College, Mumbai, said, “I have studied the same thing and written the research papers that the RCI is recommending in the new course. It is just very disheartening and makes me wonder if I should have waited to complete my degree. The only difference between the course I studied and the new course is that my course was only for three years. The new course will give the students much more than what I am getting by completing my degree.” 

“RCI should release a bridge course at least so that I can take it and attain the same level because all my study materials were similar,” Vijayvergiya added.

According to the new guideline, only students with a science background will be allowed entry into BSc Clinical Psychology (Hons) and the RCI has also introduced a limited number of seats for the course. These guidelines have also not been settled with the aspiring students.

“I wanted to pursue a BA in psychology and had taken humanities in class 12. However, there’s a huge uncertainty about what I should do next. I don’t know if I should continue with my plans because I certainly don’t want to pursue something that will have lesser value in the future,” said Tanvi Modkal.

The parent of another aspiring student, Yash Kumar, said, “There are anyways a lesser number of students pursuing psychology in our country and now with limited seats, they are widening the gap even more. Why will anyone choose a BA or MA in psychology when it will clearly be given less preference than the other? I believe that a holistic education is required for a field like this which is not just limited to science.”

However, others favour this decision and believe it’s a step towards the right direction. 

“I believe that students from science backgrounds will have a better understanding of mental health. They will have knowledge about how the human body and brain function and will have a better understanding about human hormones, and thus, will have a different approach towards people,” said Dr (Prof) Praveen Suman, Director of Child Development Clinic, Gangaram Hospital. She added that many psychologists are working independently without any guidance from doctors.

Questions are also raised about the introduction of the course in the RCI-approved colleges.

“It is not easy to implement the course. There are many technical hurdles. The course study and faculty have to be prepared,” said a professor from the arts department of a well-known college.

Notably, there are only four RCI-approved medical colleges in Mumbai that will offer the course. These include the All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIIPMR), the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (Divyangjan), the Topiwala National Medical College and the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disability (Divyangajan) Regional Centre.

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