Higher educational institutions offering open and distance learning (ODL) courses with the approval of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will now have to apply afresh with it for grant of recognition.
The higher education regulator has made it mandatory for all universities, notifying revised regulations for the institutions offering undergraduate and post-graduate level ODL programmes in various disciplines.
The UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 came into immediate effect from June 23, with the commission notifying it in an official gazette.
Higher Educational Institutions in India do not have the Government’s permission to offer degree programmes in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy and other technical disciplines in the ODL mode.
“Every higher educational institution offering a programme in ODL mode in pursuance of an approval granted to it for the purpose by the then Distance Education Council or by the Commission or by any other regulatory authority or intending to offer a programme in ODL mode from the academic session immediately after the notification of these regulations shall, for grant of recognition, make an application to the Commission,” the revised regulations stipulate.
Only last month, the UGC granted approval to more than 100 higher educational institution’s ODL programmes for the academic session of 2017-18.
The institutions will have to make an on-line application in the format specified by the UGC and upload the same on its portal along with scanned copy of the documents required “at least six months before the commencement of the academic session of the programme intended to be offered by them, the regulations sought.
Under the revised rules, the UGC will grant approval to the ODL programmes of only those higher educational institutions which have a valid accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and has completed five years of existence.
“Provided that this clause shall not be applicable to Open Universities until the time they become eligible for the NAAC accreditation and it shall be mandatory for Open Universities to get NAAC accreditation within one year of their becoming eligible for the same,” the UGC regulation provides.
Besides, an institution deemed to be a university so declared by the Central Government shall offer the ODL courses or programmes as per the extant Deemed-to-be-a University Regulations of the UGC, it further clarifies.
If a higher educational institution does not obtain UGC recognition under the revised regulations for offering ODL programmes, the degrees granted by them to their students will not be treated as valid.
For violation of the regulations, the institutions may have to face de-recognition of their ODL programmes.
“If a higher educational institution is found continuing the violations, a First Information Report (FIR) may be lodged against the officials or management of the errant institution to take action as per law,” the UGC regulation stipulates.