The Times of India | Prasad Joshi | TNN | February 14, 2016 |
Aurangabad: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has, in a way, undone a policy initiative taken by ministry of human resource development (MHRD) to recognize technical education obtained through open and distance learning (ODL) method by re-imposing a ban on such degrees. The UGC has through a public notice termed offering of such courses by colleges to be “misleading and in gross violation of the policy regarding offering programmes in ODL Mode”. It has also clarified that it has not recognized any institution to offer distance programme in technical education and such qualification acquired by a student shall not be eligible for employment in government services or for pursuing higher studies. The UGC move is completely against the MHRD decision of July 2015 that degrees, diplomas and certificates granted by universities through ODL mode for programmes, including technical education, would now be considered valid for government jobs.
The MHRD stand was consistent with the recommendation of the Madhav Menon committee, which had advocated that recognition of technical education qualification from distance education mode is consistent with National Policy of Education and should be allowed by using study material for theory component, e-learning for interaction and compulsory practical component for development of requisite skill. The panel had suggested that regular face-to-face counselling sessions during weekends could be used for clarification and removal of doubts. With regards to practical work, the Menon committee had said that laboratory experiments could be conducted in recognized colleges taking into account the physical infrastructure and human resource required for the purpose. However, the UGC, through its latest notice, has snubbed said MHRD notification and also ignored the recommendations of the Menon committee. The latest UGC stand, experts said, was a repetition of its earlier approach of not approving BTech, MTech courses in distance mode, but recognising MBA/MCA qualifications from ODL mode.
Ravi Bharadwaj, legal expert in the field of education, said the latest UGC notice was a step backwards and works against aspirations. “Higher education has experienced substantial growth in our country, however, it has failed to scale upto the required strengths. This is because it is highly dependent on conventional education, which is highly capital-intensive,” he said. He adding that the need of the hour is to develop an alternative mode of education to supplement the conventional education system through policy initiatives to facilitate the expansion of higher education sector for the fulfilment of aspirations of those who are deprived of pursuing it. Bharadwaj said the proposed Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 also makes provisions for technical education within the scope of distance education and the proposed Council has representations from AICTE and other technical or professional regulators. While in a larger sense, there appears to be confusion between the two apex regulatory bodies, the state-run Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) has decided to abide by the directives of the UGC. “While MHRD is a policy-making body, the UGC is the executive for such decisions. Though both these bodies have apparently taken contradictory stands with regards to offering engineering and technical courses, institutions will have to follow UGC order,” YCMOU vice-chancellor M M Salunkhe told ToI. He said all eyes would be on the Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 which needs to be passed by the Parliament. The Bill hints that the technical education would get covered under the scope of ODL mode. Globally, leading universities in the world are promoting ODL mode of learning and in our country also this mode of education needs to gain more ground, he said. – Courtesy / UGC Circular / Notice : Published on 11/02/2016 / UGC Public Notice reg.: Distance Education Programmes