In a landmark reform, universities and higher educational institutions from this academic session will be able to offer graduate, postgraduate and diploma programmes online in non-technical disciplines.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the UGC (Online Courses) regulations for such degrees. “The regulations will be made applicable from the academic session 2018-19,” the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The higher education institutions, which have been in existence for at least five years and are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale will be eligible to start online courses.
Institutions willing to offer online courses under the UGC regulations should also be listed in the top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years, a UGC official said.
However, NAAC and NIRF conditions shall not be applicable to existing government open universities till NAAC or similar accreditation system or NIRF are made available.
The move is aimed at increasing the gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education from the current 25.2% to at least 30% by 2022.
“As per the regulations, the higher educational institutions can offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode in only those disciplines in which it has already been offering the same or similar programmes or courses at graduation level in regular mode of classroom teaching or in open and distance learning mode,” the official said.
Online programmes requiring practicals or laboratory courses as a curricular requirement “shall not be permitted.”
The examinations of the students to be enrolled in the online courses will be conducted in proctored mode and in conformity with any norms for such examinations stipulated by the Commission.
“The online learning shall have minimum four quadrants: video lectures, e-content, self-assessment and discussion forum to clarify doubts,” the official added.
Aadhaar and Passport shall be used to authenticate the Indian and foreign students respectively for all online interactions including teaching-learning and examinations.
“The learners’ engagement will be monitored via participation in asynchronous or synchronous discussions, assignment activity and programme involvement. The analytics of learning management system shall be used for ensuring the learner’s participation at least for two hours every fortnight,” the official added.