UGC: New Guidelines for Online Course and Distance Learning

Photo credit: Google images

University Grants Commission (UGC), on 5th September, finalized its integrated online and distance learning regulations to provide easier access to students. 

“On Teachers Day, @ugc_india integrated distance and online regulations notified in the gazette focusing on access and equity on one side and quality-centric autonomy to the universities on the other,” Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said on social media.

Under these regulations, the top 100 universities in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) or those with 3.26 or above National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grades will be permitted to provide online courses without prior permission.

“The integrated regulations are student-centric. Many quality provisions have been made to ensure mobility, equivalence among different modes of education, complaint handling mechanism,” Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said on social media.

The minister further added that the integrated distance and online regulations are compliant to budget and Aatma Nirbhar Bharat announcements made by the government.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also released a checklist for students regarding adherence to the duration of the academic session, the prohibition of franchising agreement, and ensuring all activities are within the territorial jurisdiction before enrolling them into distance learning programmes.

“Please ensure that the minimum duration, nomenclature, and qualification for degree programme under which they are enrolling is strict as per UGC notification on the specification of degrees and its amendments,” said UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain in a notice listing the precautions need to be taken by students before enrolling in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes.

“Also ensure that all activities of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) including admission, counselling sessions, contact programmes, programme delivery and examinations are strictly conducted within the territorial jurisdiction,” he added.

As per norms, no university whether central, state, private or deemed to be university, can offer its programmes through franchising agreements with private coaching institutions for admitting learners and conducting courses through open and distance learning and online mode.

“Please ensure that the admission process is carried out through headquarters of the HEIs in a transparent manner. The learners are also advised to verify all details as claimed by the institution on the website. If any deviation is noticed, please communicate the same to UGC for necessary punitive action as per provisions defined under respective regulations,” Jain said.

The secretary also said that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has decided that the revised academic session for this year as decided by the commission for ODL programmes, shall be kept as a period of 12 months starting from September-October, 2020 and February-March, 2021.

The students have also been advised against taking admission in programmes which are prohibited in distance learning including engineering, medicine, law, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy, agriculture, hotel management, culinary studies, valuation of real estate and MPhil or Phd programmes in any discipline.