UGC Allows Autonomous Colleges of India to Offer Online Courses

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Education as a whole is currently undergoing an overwhelming transformation, which for the most part is good. Many factors are at play here from the onset of the pandemic, the introduction of the new National Education Policy, to the recent decision taken by the Union Government during the Union Budget of introduce digital universities nationwide. In another attempt to make higher education accessible, affordable and convenient for students, UGC has taken a crucial step.

The Union Grant Commission or UGC, the higher education watchdog in India, has allowed 900 autonomous colleges to offer online degree courses from July. The reasons why this announcement is important are that until now, only universities were allowed to offer online courses. Now, however, private and autonomous colleges will also be able to offer online degree courses.

The list of colleges granted clearance includes those ranked in the top 100 in their respective subject categories at least twice in the previous three rankings by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) or who achieved a minimum score of 3.26 national assessment and accreditation. Council (NAAC). Colleges that meet all of these requirements will not need to obtain prior approval from UGC. They will only be required to follow the guidelines and regulations issued by UGC.

This decision by the regulatory body aims to raise the gross enrollment rate to 50% by 2035, as proposed by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

Online undergraduate degrees will be available to students who have completed class 12. Those wishing to pursue postgraduate studies will need to successfully complete the corresponding undergraduate course. Candidates for these courses will not need a certain upper secondary level score.

The admission process for these courses involves the assessment of students through an online proctored mode exam or computer-based test (CBT) by the National Testing Agency (NTA). Unlike offline courses, 75% attendance will not be required for online programs. Students will also be able to make several exits and entries in the course.

UGC officials are currently finalizing draft amendments to the current UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programs and Online Programs) Regulations, 2020. A report indicates that by the end of this week, a draft will be put available to stakeholders for comments and suggestions.

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