The University Grants Commission is set to bring in regulations for online degree courses, officials familiar with the matter said.
The development has come after the ministry of human resource development asked the country’s top 100 universities to offer such courses amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Members of the commission, in a meeting on Friday, discussed the contours of the regulations which will be similar to those for open learning courses.
“It is likely that an integrated set of regulations for distance and online learning can soon be brought out by the UGC. There is a general agreement that courses which are high on practical content like engineering or others will not be offered through online education. However, courses where there is less of practical training are ideal for such teaching. Moreover, subjects like coding can also be taught,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
Even with integrated regulations, there may be clauses specifically for online courses, the official cited above said. The reason for bringing in regulations is mainly to address quality concerns related to such courses, he said.
The higher education regulator has already decided that it will lower the bar for varsities to offer online and distance learning courses from the earlier benchmark 3.26 score by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) at least for one academic year.
It is also likely that varsities will be given a free hand in offering diploma and certificate courses online, said another official.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, the HRD ministry has been focusing on popularising the online mode of education as classroom teaching appears increasingly difficult.
In her budget speech earlier this year, Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the country’s top 100 educational institutions will start offering full-fledged degree courses online. Sitharaman had again mentioned online courses while announcing the relief measures to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on the economy.