Distance Learning, Online Degrees Must be Treated on Par with Regular Courses: UGC

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in a recent notification has made it clear that the degrees or diplomas awarded via online modes or by Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions are to be treated equally as those by regular institutions. The commission highlighted the Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes Regulations 2020 which specifies, “Equivalence of qualification acquired through Conventional or Open and Distance Learning and online modes.”

Under this ordinance, it is mentioned that “Degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level in conformity with UGC notification on Specification of Degrees, 2014 and post graduate diplomas awarded through Open and Distance training mode and/or Online mode by Higher Educational Institutions, recognised by the Commission under these regulations, shall be treated as equivalent to the corresponding awards of the Degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level and post graduate diplomas offered through conventional mode.”

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The notification further states, “This is for information to the general public, students, and other stakeholders.”

Earlier, UGC invited suggestions and comments from various stakeholders on draft amendments it prepared for ODL and online programmes. The initiative was taken to guarantee a simple ODL and online programme framework.

The draft amendments extended the National Assessment Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) assessment ratings for three more years which was previously valid till 2020-21. Now, the ratings are valid for sessions 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024. As per the draft, the commission will review the ratings following the three academic years.

In a public notice, UGC announced, “Keeping in view National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommendation to have Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 50 pe cent by 2035 and to further promote ODL and online education, UGC constituted an expert committee to review existing ODL and online regulatory framework while ensuring quality, driven by simplified recognition system and processes.”

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