In a bid to improve access to higher education, the University Grants Commission (UGC), has invited proposals from top institutes in the country to offer courses in the online mode, including degree courses, from the academic year 2019-2020.
Through the initiative, the HRD Ministry is hoping to improve India's gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education from the present 25% to 30%.
In a circular dated January 4, the UGC invited higher education institutes to apply for starting online courses.
Applications will have to be made between January 7 and January 31.
Under the new regulations, institutes will be allowed to offer certificate, diploma, and degree courses through the online mode.
However, such courses can only be offered in disciplines in which institutes already offer offline, classroom-teaching courses.
Online courses are required to have at least four quadrants
Online courses offered under the new regulations will have to have a minimum of four quadrants - video lectures, e-content, self-assessment tools, and discussion forums to clarify doubts.
Caveats to keep in mind
It should be noted here that programs that have practical/laboratory work as part of the curriculum will not be allowed in the online mode.
As for other courses that can be offered in the online mode, the medium of teaching will be offline, but exams have to be taken physically.
Candidates will have to take such examinations at designated centers after undergoing biometric authentication.
Which institutes can apply for starting online courses?
For being eligible for starting online courses, institutes will have to meet the following criteria:
1) Have to be in existence for at least five years, with a minimum National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score of 3.26 out of 4.
2) Have to be in the top-100 in the overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years in the previous three years.
Reportedly, admissions will take place twice a year
"Admissions will take place twice a year and a higher education institution will offer the same course it has been offering under conventional mode or the open and distance learning (ODL) mode," a senior HRD Ministry official told TOI.