As of next year, people with knowledge of yoga are likely to be given preference in admissions to physiotherapy programs in colleges and universities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), a department of the ministry of human resource development (HRD), will decide whether to grant preferences to practitioners of yogas applying to physiotherapy programmes at its next meeting, a senior official in the UGC has said.

The body generally meets around twice every month, and last convened on August 24.

The UGC could not reach a consensus on the proposal at the August meeting, according to official minutes of the meeting obtained by HT. The minutes did not explain what prevented consensus, or the extent of the preference the commission is considering. Two senior officials of the UGC and one senior official of the HRD declined to comment on the details of the discussion.

According to a senior official of the UGC, the proposal, if accepted, would take effect by the application season of 2018.

Last year, the ministry of human resource development asked the UGC to make instruction in yoga a part of bachelor’s and master’s courses in physiotherapy. The commission then wrote to all central universities suggesting they form yoga courses based on the syllabus available on the website of the department of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy. According to the senior official at the UGC, this letter also suggested that prior experience with yoga should be a criterion for evaluating physiotherapy applicants.

The UGC has pursued a number of initiatives related to promoting yoga since the creation of a panel devoted to the subject in 2014. Last year, it approved the establishment of undergraduate and postgraduate yoga departments at central universities. Six have set up programmes so far.

Last year also saw the introduction of yoga as a subject in the National Eligibility Test (NET), the qualifying test for jobs in higher education. Despite the existence of only six government university yoga departments, 7,279 candidates took the yoga NET on January 22, according to the Central Board of Secondary Education.

More promotional measures for yoga lie ahead. The commission is planning to form a Inter-University Centre for Yogic Sciences, which would help coordinate research and training across different institutions.