The University Grants Commission (UGC) is actively considering relaxing its norms which would enable distance education institutions to offer MPhil and PHD programmes, benefiting nearly 10,000 students. The matter will be put before the next meeting of the commission. “The commission is taking a considerate view of the matter and it will be placed in the next committee meeting,” UGC Chairman Ved Prakash told PTI. The development comes against the backdrop of a section of teachers from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) reminding UGC about its assurance given four years back to relax norms in context of research programmes conducted through distance mode. The UGC had clamped the bar by notifying a rule the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation in 2009 saying research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality. The regulations had put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursuing such courses across the country. Following widespread protests by various open learning universities including IGNOU on the ground that laws, passed by Parliament or legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses, UGC had lifted the ban in 2011. It said, “an open university may be permitted to conduct MPhil/PhD programmes through distant education mode subject to condition that it does so strictly as per the provisions of the UGC Regulations”. However, with no official notification coming from UGC following that the matter has dragged on for over four years. “The suppression of this notification is ruining the career of a large number of students for which you should feel accountable. This is an act of utter insensitivity on the part of UGC,” IGNOU Teachers Association said in a letter to UGC. The teachers’ body also said that the delay by UGC has also hampered the process of suitably amending the IGNOU Act.