ugc: UGC to let 900 autonomous colleges offer online degrees |: India News:

NEW DELHI: Come 2022-23 academic session, students who cannot get into their target college due to high cutoffs need not be disappointed and grudgingly go for their second choice. That’s because in addition to universities, nearly 900 autonomous colleges across the country will be able to offer courses remotely from July onwards as the government opens up the online education sector in a major reform to achieve 50% gross enrolment ratio by 2035 in alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
Currently, only universities are allowed to offer online degrees. However, the new move will allow autonomous colleges securing ranks in the top 100 list in respective subject category twice in the preceding three rankings of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) or having National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grade of minimum 3.26 to award online degrees without prior approval of the University Grants Commission (UGC), but in compliance with regulations.

Also, unlike conventional programs where aspirants are required to have a certain score at the Class 12 level, eligibility for admission to these online undergraduate degree programs will be simply “senior secondary pass”. Similarly, for admission to online postgraduate degree programs, the eligibility will be “pass” in the relevant undergraduate course.
The draft for the amendment in the existing UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programs and Online Programs) Regulations, 2020 is being finalized and will be available for feedback from stakeholders this week.

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The new framework, accessed exclusively by: TOI:, will also let higher educational institutions (HEIs), including autonomous colleges, teach courses in emerging areas that may not be possible in-person mode. There will not be any requirement of ‘one batch passout’ in conventional programs so as to offer the same program in open & distance learning (ODL) and online mode. In the current structure, courses taught in universities do not vary, although the medium of instruction could be either digital or conventional.
All online degrees will have the flexibility of conventional programs in accordance with NEP 2020 – such as the four-year undergraduate program with multiple entry and exit facilities. UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar said the online, ODL and conventional degrees will be of equal value.
All this has been done with the underlying goal of pushing up India’s gross enrolment ratio to 50% in the next 13 years in line with the NEP target. It recorded an uptick from 26.3% in 2018-19 to 27.1% in 2019-20 for the 18-23 age group.
“Like NEP, which is built on the five pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability, the online education ecosystem will be developed on the same principles,” said Kumar.
The new reforms will be notified as amendments in the current regulations issued during the pandemic on September 4, 2020, he said.
Stating that barring professional and technical programs that need laboratories and those programs prohibited by any regulatory authority, the UGC chief said online degrees can be offered for all other programs.
“Also, many universities may not have a physical model program – for instance, in machine learning, data science, artificial intelligence and financial management. But they would like to offer that in the online mode. So, even if you do not have this degree on the conventional physical campus, you can still offer these programs online, ”the UGC head explained.
At present, universities are offering 120 UG, 229 PG and two PG diploma programs online. The choice is limited because only courses taught conventionally can be offered digitally.
“The new regulatory framework is to enable all the autonomous colleges to offer online education because if we stick to only universities, it becomes limited. There are a large number of high-quality autonomous colleges in the country. This will enhance access for learners. And we will have these institutes participating and offering both UG and PG programs online. These online degrees will be just like degrees obtained from any physical university, ”Kumar said.

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