In a major step towards allowing universities and colleges to run digital degree programmes, the higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued regulations, laying the framework for online as well as distance learning programmes.
The UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes) Regulations, 2020, were notified on Friday.
Varsities that are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with at least a score of 3.01 out of 4 or ranking in the ‘Top 100’ universities, as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), can apply for running the online programmes.
Online education has gained much traction due to restrictions imposed to check the spread of Covid-19.
A higher educational institution (HGI) will be eligible to offer only those degree or diploma programmes — at undergraduate and postgraduate levels — in courses that are already being offered in the classroom or open and distance learning modes, with at least one batch of graduates.
Any programme requiring practical or laboratory training as a curricular requirement shall be prohibited online, except in cases where the practical component is limited to programming and coding, including software tools.
An HGI, other than open universities, shall have a designated Centre for Distance and Online Education (CDOE) headed by a director for operationalising the programmes, as per the framework.
The norms also have provisions that stipulate teachers specifically for online/distance learning modes.
As per the norms, courses that shall not be offered in the online or distance learning mode include programmes in the disciplines (including their allied domains) of engineering, medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other paramedical disciplines, pharmacy, nursing, dental, architecture, law, agriculture, horticulture, hotel management, catering technology, culinary sciences, aircraft maintenance, visual arts and sports.