The University Grants Commission has recognized 113 Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s) for imparting Open and Distance Learning (ODL) for the 2019-20 academic session. The UGC has been implementing strict quality regulations for the Open and Distance Learning programme due to the increase in the interest of the students and an enrollment of 25 percent of students in the programme.
Joint Secretary of UGC, Avichal Kapur stated that the UGC has approved close to 1500 new programmes under ODL which has received 18 lakh fresh admissions at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Kapur also added that as opposed to the common perception regarding the distance learning programme, the standard of the courses offered in this mode is at the same level as that of the conventional courses. The UGC has also asked the recognized universities to conduct job fairs for students under the distance learning programme. The regulator has further urged all the HEI’s to have a common question papers for the distance and conventional students for half of the programmes from the July 2019 academic session onwards.
According to the regulations set by the UGC, the ODL sessions are conducted for a period of 12 months which start from July and January every year. This provides two sessions per year and also offers students flexibility, Kapur said. He also stated that the UGC has a list of Higher Education Institutions which have been accorded recognition for July 2018, January 2019 and July 2019 academic sessions.
RP Bahuguna, honorary director (Administration), Centre for Distance and Open Learning (CDOL), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) said that the approval from the UGC he added will help in contributing to Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by making higher education accessible to a larger number of students especially those from the marginalized sections. The Centre for Distance and Open Learning (CDOL), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is recognized for the 2019-20 academic session.
Institutions offering distance education are required to have a minimum of 3.26 NAAC accreditation and a NIRF Ranking in the top 100. It is also mandatory to stick to the quality norms with regard to the study material. Ajit K Chauhan, chairman, Amity Directorate of Distance & Online Education, Amity University, Noida, added that the higher education institutions must be scientifically prepared to incorporate adult students and comprise to continuous assessments for higher learning outcomes.