COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our life in a big way. Every industry and business face the brunt of it. Many even shut down owing to the losses. On top of it, the education industry came to a standstill with no proper platforms available to teach the students in schools or colleges. However, as they say, every adversity has an opportunity, online education came to the rescue. Teachers and students quickly adapted the online classes schedule. UGC has modified its guidelines and now grants permission to 100 universities to start online programs and distance learning without prior permission.
With an accreditation rating of 3.26, UGC has been working on revising the guidelines to begin online degree courses for quite some time. The decision had to be made after the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) vets the guidelines and gives required approval to go ahead with online degree courses that could be paved. The new regulation can be summed up as an integrated model that embeds distance education with online mode.
The integrated regulations are student-centric. Many quality provisions have been made to ensure mobility, equivalence among different modes of education, complaint handling mechanism. – said Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank
He further added that this integrated approach would comply with the budget and AatmaNirbhar Bharat announcements. These regulations for online education will ensure the quality of education and provide quality-centric autonomy to the universities. They are also looking to set up the concept of virtual university recommended in the National Education Policy (NEP).
According to the new guidelines, the top 100 universities, according to the National Institutional Ranking Framework or the universities with a minimum grade of 3.26 as given by NAAC, are allowed to start their online programs without consent from UGC. However, they have to comply with the regulations which are provided in the guidelines. The students have been advised to be cautious while taking admission through this online education mode. Some courses are not approved, including medicine, law, engineering, agriculture, hotel management, MPhil, or Ph.D. programs in any discipline.
The new regulations can be considered as one of the projects delivered by the government, which was promised in the PM e-Vidya Programme, released in May. The PM e-Vidya program provides multi-mode access to digital education.
Though pandemic has taken a toll on every sector and even on the learning too. However, the learning should never stop, and it is a welcome move by UGC. Moreover, the strict and newer guideline in place can help sort out the colleges propping up everywhere.