UGC has recognized and approved 113 Higher Education Institutes for offering Open and Distance Learning courses for the 2019-20 academic session. The increase in students’ number in distance learning programmes has led UGC to implement strict quality guidelines and regulations for Open and Distance Learning Programmes. As of now, there has been 25% increase in the enrolment of students in distance learning programmes.
Avichal Kapur, Joint Secretary of UGC has said that UGC has already approved nearly 1500 new programmes under ODL, which has received 18 lakhs admission requests at postgraduate and undergraduate levels. He also said that the standard of the distance learning courses will be same as that of conventional programmes. UGC also asked the approved universities to conduct job fairs for students enrolled in distance learning programmes. Other than this, the regulatory body has also asked HEIs to follow common question papers for conventional and distance learning courses from July 2019 academic session.
As per the UGC regulations, the Open and Distance Learning sessions are conducted for the period of 1 year, starting from July and January every year. This not only provides two sessions in a year but also offer flexibility to students, kapur said.
RP Bahuguna, honorary director (Administration), Centre for Distance and Open Learning, Jamia Millia Islamia said that the approval of UGC in recognizing distance learning courses will help in contributing Gross Enrolment Ratio and make Higher Education accessible to students from marginalized sections.
In the meantime, Institutes offering distance learning courses need to have minimum 3.26 NAAC accreditation and should feature in the NIRF ranking of top 100 institutes. It is also mandatory for institutes to follow quality norms when it comes to study material of the respective subject.