Universities and institutions will be able to offer certificate, diploma, and degree programmes online from this academic session (2018-2019), after the University Grants Commission (UGC) approved the regulations in a meeting on Thursday, according to The Hindustan Times. .
A senior UGC official, however, said that the institutions can offer only those courses (approved by any one of the 14 statutory councils) that they have already been offering at graduation level through regular or distance learning modes, with at least one batch of students having already graduated. HT had reported this on May 23.
The new regulations, however, do not apply for courses that include practical/laboratory classes as part of the curriculum, the official said. “The examinations (for online courses) shall be conducted in proctored mode (in the presence of an invigilator) and in conformity with any norms for such examinations stipulated by the commission.”
Under the UGC (Online Courses) Regulations, 2018, a higher education institution will be eligible if it has been in existence for five years; is accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale; and is in top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years in the previous three years.
With these, the Union human resource development ministry hopes to achieve the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) target of 30% by 2020. GER (25.2% in 2016-17) is the percentage of eligible population of students (aged between 18 and 23) enroled in higher education.
Meanwhile, the commission approved new provisions in the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil/PhD Degrees) Regulations, 2016.
To make these regulations advantageous to students of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the UGC has relaxed the qualifying marks in the entrance examinations for admission into MPhil/PhD programmes — from 50% to 45%.
“There will be a weightage of 70% to the written test, and 30% to the performance in the interview/viva-voce,” the official said.
The commission also granted graded autonomy to nine more deemed universities, including Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani; Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi; Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru among others.
The graded autonomy will allow these deemed universities the freedom to start new courses, skill development courses, research parks and any other academic programmes. They will also have the freedom to hire foreign faculty, enrol foreign students, and enter into academic collaborations among others.