Universities May Offer Distance Learning Courses Without Approval of the UGC

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Distance education has ignited the growth of Indian education and given more flexibility to students to pursue two courses simultaneously. This saves a lot of time and also helps diversify the knowledge and learning of students, making them more skilled and industry-oriented. In this series, UGC has recently amended the norms of distance learning. It has given autonomy to universities offering distance education to run courses in open and distance learning modes with or without the approval of UGC.

The University Grants Commission vide notification dated on 18th Novembet,2022 amended the University Grants Commission [Categorization of Universities (Only) For Grant of Graded Autonomy (First Amendment) Regulations, 2022.

For Category-I universities, UGC has amended clause 4.10 of Section 4, which states that universities may offer courses in the open and distance learning modes without approval of the Commission, provided they satisfy all the conditions laid down under the regulations, by whatever name they are called, pertaining to the open and distance learning modes as notified by the UGC from time to time. Earlier, the conditions were laid down under “Universities may offer courses in the open and distance learning modes without approval of the UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017.”

For Category II universities, the UGC has amended clause 5.7 of Section 5, which states that universities may offer courses in the open and distance learning modes with the approval of the Commission, provided they satisfy all the conditions laid down under the regulations, by whatever name they are called, pertaining to the open and distance learning modes as notified by the UGC from time to time. Earlier, the conditions were laid out under “Universities may offer courses in the open and distance learning modes without approval of the UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017.” 

What is Regulation, 2017?

The Regulations, 2017 lay down the minimum standards of instruction for the grant of degree at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels, through Open and Distance Learning mode. It shall apply to a University referred to under clause (f) of section 2 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, an Institution Deemed to be University under section 3 of the said Act, for all degree programmes of learning at the undergraduate and post-graduate level, other than programmes in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy and programmes not permitted to be offered in distance mode by any other regulatory body.

What is Category I and II Universities?

UGC, under Regulation 2018, laid down the categorization of universities based on certain criteria.

If a university wish to be part of Category-I, then

  1. It has been accredited by NAAC with a score of 3.51 or above; or
  2. It has received a corresponding accreditation grade/score from a reputed accreditation agency empanelled by the UGC; or
  3. It has been ranked among top 500 of reputed world rankings, such as Times Higher Education or QS.

And for Category-II

  1. It has been accredited by NAAC with a score of 3.26 and above, upto 3.50; or
  2. It has received a corresponding accreditation grade/score from a reputed accreditation agency empanelled by the UGC;

With these changes to the regulations, the UGC doesn’t want to be limited by the Regulation of 2017. Instead, the offering of these courses will be based on the conditions that the UGC announces from time to time. This makes it clear that as time goes on and new technologies come out, the way courses are offered online should change to keep up with the times.

 

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