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Cloud on UGC distance learning rules : UGC Open and Distance Learning Regulations, 2017

The Telegraph | June 29 , 2017 |  Basant Kumar Mohanty |  Cloud on distance learning rules | Opinion |

New Delhi, June 28: Distance learning courses offered by institutions across the country could be headed for the freezer over the next six months after new rules notified by the University Grants Commission came into effect last week. The UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 – notified on June 23 – asks every institution intending to offer courses in distance mode to apply to the higher education regulator for approval “at least six months before the commencement of the academic session of the programme intended to be offered”. The regulations have left the 160-odd universities in the country that offer distance education worried because the recognition they had obtained earlier from the UGC has no relevance for fresh enrolment of students. The latest guidelines say that every institution has to seek a fresh nod from the regulator even if the approval they had got under the earlier rules was still valid. Most of these institutes have started the admission process for the 2017-18 academic session beginning next month when, going by the new regulations, they should have applied before January at least for courses they were intending to offer.

“The notification has come at a time when all universities have started the admission process for the 2017-18 academic session starting in July. The admission process in SOL is going on. It has created a lot of confusion,” said J. Khuntia, a professor at the School of Open Leaning in Delhi University. Nearly 1.5 lakh students enrol in July every year for the undergraduate courses the school offers. No UGC official was available for comment. Till late this evening, UGC secretary Jaspal Sandhu had not responded to calls and a text message from this newspaper. There are around 150 conventional universities and 14 open universities that offer degree and diploma courses in various subjects in distance mode. Dozens of standalone institutions not affiliated to any university also offer distance learning in diploma courses. The medium, which helps students pursue their studies without having to be physically present in classrooms, caters to nearly 40 lakh of the 3.42 crore doing their higher studies in India. Another provision in the new regulations bars institutions other than open universities from offering programmes that are not among subjects taught in the conventional face-to-face mode. At present, many private institutions offer courses they don’t teach in regular classrooms. Professor Manikrao Salunkhe, vice-chancellor of the Pune-based Bharati Vidyapeeth, said the regulations had several good provisions to ensure quality control. For example, it wants institutions to disclose details of faculty, tuition fees and facilities on their website and in brochures. Salunkhe said there have been questions about the “standard of courses” offered in the distance mode. “The UGC has tried to standardise the courses.” The regulations have retained the restrictions on offering engineering courses, which, Salunkhe said, was a concern. “I was expecting that the regulations would enable institutions to offer various kinds of courses. But the restrictions are still there. It is a matter of concern,” he said.

The regulations bar institutions from offering courses through franchisees. There have been allegations of irregularities in granting of permission to such centres by several universities, including the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). A member of the faculty at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University said the regulations should have disbanded study centres too. “The study centres and franchisee centres are the same thing. Only banning franchisee centres is not enough. They may come up as study centres,” he said. The regulations say 20 per cent of a course can be pursued online through the Massive Open Online Courses prepared by the UGC and the IITs in various subjects. Now the entire course is based on correspondence. According to the new regulations, standalone institutions will not be given fresh recognition. “The biggest sufferers are standalone institutions. The regulations have given them a deathblow. They can function only till the time their present permission is valid and not thereafter,” said Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer who specialises in education-related cases. – Courtesy

Distance learning rule ‘for 2018’   :   The Telegraph, July 1 , 2017, Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 30: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a clarification saying its new rules making it mandatory for distance learning courses to seek approval six months prior to commencement is applicable for the 2018 session. The Telegraph had reported on June 29 that distance learning courses could be headed for the freezer over the next six months because of the new rules that came into effect last week. The UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 – notified on June 23 – asks every institution intending to offer courses in distance mode to apply to the higher education regulator for approval “at least six months before the commencement of the academic session of the programme intended to be offered”. The regulations left the 160-odd universities in the country that offer distance education worried because the admission for the current session begins in July and according to the new rule, permission would have had to be sought in January.

However, in a public notice dated June 29, the UGC has now said: “Applications for recognising new higher  educational institutions and/or starting of new programmes are invited online shortly as per the UGC ODL Regulations, 2017, for the academic session beginning January 2018/July 2018.” The notice has been issued by Avichal Kapur, a joint secretary in the UGC. The rules that came into effect last week did not mention any date. The regulation notified in the government’s gazette, however, is yet to be amended. “How can a clarification of the UGC override its law notified in a government gazette? The UGC should have amended its own regulation. Otherwise, there will be a lot of legal complications,” said Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer. – Courtesy

Click here to download, UGC Circular : Published on 29/06/2017 :  University Grants Commission, UGC gazette notification , 72 Pages, pdf  (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017

Click here to download, UGC Circular : Published on 29/06/2017 :  Public Notice reg.: Open and Distance Learning Programmes, 1 Page, pdf

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New distance learning rules: Universities need fresh approvals from UGC for programmes

Jun 26, 2017 |  HT Correspondent |  Hindustan Times | New Delhi |

Universities offering programmes through distance mode will now be regulated under the University Grants Commission (UGC) (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017.

Universities offering programmes through distance mode will now be regulated under the University Grants Commission (UGC) (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017, notified by the commission on Friday. The commission, through the regulations, has laid down the minimum standards of instruction for the grant of degree at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels through open and distance learning mode.  According to officials, under the new regulations, students will also be allowed to take up to 20% of the total courses being offered in a particular programme in a semester through the online learning courses/massive open online courses as per UGC’s (Credit Framework for Online Learning Courses through SWAYAM) Regulations, 2016.  “Under this mode, students will be able to opt for online courses offered by various universities and institutions across the country and the credit will be transferred to them,” said a senior UGC official.

All higher educational institutions offering a programme in open and distance learning mode will now have to seek fresh approval from the commission to operate. Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Kurukshetra University among others will be impacted by the move. The regulations will apply to universities offering distance learning mode for all degree programmes at the undergraduate and post-graduate level, other than programmes in engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy and programmes not permitted to be offered in distance mode by any other regulatory body.  All examinations for programmes of the open and distance mode will be conducted within the institution where the study centres or learner support centres are located. – Courtesy

UGC Circular – Published on 07/06/2017 :  UGC Letter reg.: UGC (Credit Framework for online courses through SWAYAM) Regulations 2016 (First Amendment) : Click the below link to download …

Don’t go for PhD and MPhil through open and distance learning (ODL) mode, UGC tells candidates

The Times of India | TNN | Jun 1, 2017 |

Aurangabad: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has brought to the notice of students that PhD and MPhil programmes will not be allowed through open and distance learning (ODL) mode.  In a public notice, the UGC has advised students to not take admission in any PhD or MPhil programmes, if offered by the university or institution thorough distance-learning mode.  As per UGC (Minimum standards and procedure for awards of MPhil or PhD) Regulations 2016, no university or institution is allowed to offer research programmes through distance learning mode.  The apex regulatory body, at the same time, has also clarified that only Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and some state universities are allowed for research programmes and that too in non-technical programmes. Moreover, such research programmes need to be offered in full-time/part-time mode by the open universities and strictly in compliance with the aforesaid 2016 regulations, UGC secretary Jaspal Sandhu has said.

As per these regulations, part-time PhD is allowed provided all the conditions mentioned in the laid down rules are met.   A senior education department official, said, “UGC has issued a reminder in the matter of prohibition for offering research programmes through distance learning mode in the wake of possibility of some private intuitions indulged in such activities in violation of law.”   “The students will be at a loss eventually, if they enrol for PhD or MPhil from unrecognised institutions. Therefore, candidates desirous of research courses must keep in mind UGC advice and choose institutions accordingly,” he said, preferring anonymity. UGC 2016 regulations in question has been debated by a section of stakeholders, including private institutions who offer education through open and distance learning mode.  Ravi Bharadwaj, legal expert in education field, said, “The UGC should end the alleged discrimination against private players in educational filed. The UGC has granted autonomy in the matter of award of research programmes only to Central and State Open Universities, excluding private stand alone institutions. It is absolutely unfair and unjust. A Government should always endeavour to provide level playing field when it comes to competition and also contribute to the nation,” he said. – Courtesy  /  Click here to download the Circular – Published on 31/05/2017 – UGC Public Notice reg.: Minimum standards and procedure for awards of M.Phil. / Ph.D. Degree 

Should UGC regulate distance education in the country?

Gauri Kohli  |  Hindustan Times | New Delhi | Nov 29, 2016  | Opinion |

Heads of ODL varsities and experts have said that the transfer of the Distance Education Council (DEC) from Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) to University Grants Commission (UGC) is “not right’ and is causing a number of problems for universities. According to MM Ansari, former member UGC, transfer of DEC from Ignou to UGC was “done administratively” and was “illegal.” The UGC ‘largely’ has the power to regulate and fund conventional courses. “The Ignou Act gives the university the power to perform these roles for ODL institutions. Both UGC and Ignou Acts have been passed by Parliament with the Ignou Act being passed in 1985 – much after the UGC Act.” Shifting of DEC from Ignou to UGC required an amendment in the Ignou and UGC Acts. The powers to regulate institutions have been vested with both through Parliamentary provisions. The emergency clause, ie Section 20 (1) of the UGC Act was invoked by the HRD ministry under which DEC was transferred from Ignou to UGC. This clause can only be used sparingly for policy matters but this was not a policy matter, he says.

DEC can be given back to Ignou as it is legally possible. “The UGC cannot keep it for long until the Parliament authorises both through amendments. The DEC draft bill is still pending and cannot be enacted. The UGC is under pressure after the Niti Aayog and Hari Gautam Committee have recommended to modify its structure and stature. The UGC and DEC’s future is uncertain, Ansari adds. The National Education Policy draft proposes setting up of an autonomous body, responsible for the promotion, coordination, regulation and maintenance of standards in the ODL/Massive Online and Open Courses system. This body will prepare norms, standards and guidelines for systemic development and regulation of ODL/ MOOCs. It will also develop a mechanism for recognition, transfer and accumulation of credits earned through MOOCs, award and recognition of degrees, suggests the draft. A Parliamentary Standing Committee also directed the HRD ministry earlier this year to speed up the process of appointing a distance education regulator. Professor Ravindra Kumar, vice chancellor (in-charge) Ignou, says, “We hope the UGC will appreciate that this kind of differential treatment will hamper the growth of ODL institutions and will jeopardise the long-term national goal of providing wider access to higher education.”

Kumar feels it is futile to revive DEC in its old form and that it is a better idea to revamp the erstwhile DEC and make it capable of dealing with the “rapidly changing universe of open learning”. He says, “It is a most glaring reality today that the concept of distance learning has evaporated in thin air with the advent of modern information and communication technology. Use of mobile, television and computer has completely dissolved the notion of distance learning and replaced it with digital learning. We should comprehend this reality without any further loss of time and regear ODL as open and digital learning system/s,” he says. In this scenario, the role of a regulator needs to be “genetically modified to answer these issues.” The UGC or DEC, any regulator, which does not comply with the changing trends in distance education will “fail miserably in performing its task,” he says. It must also be noted that a number of ODL institutions are offering online courses which are not valid. “This is mainly because of the absence of a proper regulator for such courses. The UGC had set up a committee to look into it. The DEC did not approve any university to run a course solely through the online mode,” says Ansari. –  Courtesy

Act against universities offering illegal distance courses: HRD to UGC

The Indian Express | Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | November 18, 2016 |

The ministry is learnt to have despatched the order in the first week of November after five earlier letters, urging the UGC to initiate stern action against erring institutions, went unheeded.

The HRD Ministry has ordered the University Grants Commission (UGC) to file FIRs against the management of universities that have been offering correspondence courses to students outside their territorial jurisdiction. The ministry is learnt to have despatched the order in the first week of November after five earlier letters, urging the UGC to initiate stern action against erring institutions, went unheeded. The government resorted to its extraordinary powers under Section 20 of the UGC Act to order the higher education regulator to file FIRs against vice-chancellors, deans and registrars in order to “safeguard the interests of the thousands of gullible students who have been cheated by such universities and institutions”. The UGC was asked to submit an action plan by November 15, sources said.  UGC chairman Ved Prakash was not available for comment.

According to the rules, all state universities — private and government-funded — can offer distance learning programmes only within the state they are located in. If an institution violates this, then the certificates, diplomas and degrees awarded to students outside the state are deemed invalid. Sources said the recent directive could mean trouble for universities such as Sikkim Manipal University, Karnataka State Open University, Periyar University, Salem (Tamil Nadu), and Global Open University, Nagaland, which, according to HRD Ministry officials, have been violating UGC rules on territorial jurisdiction. A letter written by Higher Education Secretary V S Oberoi to UGC chairman Prakash earlier this year had identified the above institutions as regular violators and urged the UGC to act against them. Oberoi’s missive referred to advertisements released by Sikkim Manipal University in particular and stated that the advertisements were deliberately ambiguous and did not mention the institution’s jurisdiction, which results in a lot of outstation students being misled into enrolling for the correspondence courses. Sources said the Ministry did not receive any concrete reply to this and four other letters. –  Courtesy

UGC directs universities to write ‘regular’ or ‘correspondence’ / ‘distance’ on student’s degree, mark sheets, Diploma, Certificates etc

The New Indian Express | Sanjay Singh   |   02nd November 2016 |  UGC directs universities to  write ‘regular or non regular’ on student’s degree, mark sheets

NEW DELHI: The practice followed by many universities, academic institutions, offering education through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode, and issuing degrees, diploma, certificate and mark sheets without mentioning the mode of the education programme – whether done through correspondence or regular – will come to an end now. The University Grants Commission (UGC) taking a serious note of it issued directions on October 31 to all universities and institutions engaged in ODL programmes and for immediately putting an end to such a practice which it believes is unfair to those candidates who have undergone regular courses for the same programme.  While issuing guidelines the UGC said: “It has been noticed that some institutions/ universities offering education through Open and Distance Learning mode have issued degrees, mark-sheets, diplomas, certificates etc to the students without indicating the mode of delivery of the programme”.  “All the institutions offering programmes through ODL mode are essentially required to mention `Mode of delivery: ODL/ Distance’ on all documents issued to the students during or after the completion of programme.

The Commission has pointed out that “it had on September 2, 2016 decided that universities, institutions should reflect the mode of delivery of the programme on all the documents issued to students in order to erase ambiguities between conventional mode degree(s) with that of ODL mode degree (s)”.  A top UGC official pointed out that any candidate undergoing educational course as a regular candidate and another through ODL or as a non-regular student are two different modes of education and that requires to be differentiated in all certificates, mark sheets, degree or diploma. “You cannot paint all with the same brush. A regular student puts in more energy and time for the same academic course in comparison to a candidate undergoing the same educational programme through correspondence,  non-regular or ODL mode. This requires to be mandatorily written on the degree, diplomas, certificates or mark sheets,” said the official.

Another official from the Union HRD ministry pointed out that there has been too much of ambiguity and confusion in courses like MBA and post-graduate diplomas courses in business administration/ management besides other professional courses. Many private institutions offering part-time, non regular, distance programme courses don’t mention the mode of education, owing to which companies hiring candidates do not come to know the real mode of education of the candidate they are hiring.  “The UGC guidelines will put a full stop to such anomalies and ambiguity and make it clear if the candidate has passed a course through regular or through correspondence/ non-regular,” said the official.  Every year approximately 35 lakh to 40 lakh students take up ODL degree post degree and diploma courses in India. Additionally, a regulator for distance education is also awaiting the nod of the Union HRD ministry to check malpractices owing to increasing number of registration of these non regular/ distance learning courses.  At least 131 universities in India are offering ODL programmes. The UGC early last year allowed over 100 universities to continue offering academic programmes through ODL mode for the academic year 2015-16. –  Courtesy     Click here to download UGC Circular : Published on 02/11/2016  :    UGC Letter reg.: Mode of delivery of programmes obtained under Distance and ODL Education

Distance learning policy needs a needle, not noodles approach

The New Indian Express | By S Vaidhyasubramaniam  |  15th October 2016 | Opinion|

Any noodles brand will deliver steamy and tasty noodles in two minutes and none can deliver the same with untangled strands. Taste and entanglement are inversely proportional—the more you untie, the more the noodles will get cold and lose its taste. An entangled but tasty noodle is okay to satisfy the gastric appetite of students but educational policy-making needs a needle approach which directs the thread of thoughts and sews them together to create a fine educational fabric. The post-2004 charitable grant of deemed universities, the Supreme Court’s order on the Yashpal case, Tandon Committee’s armchair arbitrary and faulty analysis leading to paralysis of deemed universities, justifiable closure of IGNOU’s Distance Education Council (DEC) and taking over of distance education by the Distance Education Bureau (DEB) of the University Grants Commission (UGC) without any legislative sanction have all resulted in certain avoidable confusions in the current distance education policy-making. The unrecognised and unnoticed off-campus centres of deemed universities (winked at by the Tandon Committee), the mixing of Yashpal order on regular campuses and franchising of regular programmes in unauthorised study centres by regular State/private universities have resulted in the UGC’s understandable tri-state policy mind—caution, care and confusion.

The recent and hasty decision of an ‘expert committee’, constituted by the UGC to approve distance education courses for 2016-17 which have so far been approved, both by the erstwhile DEC and UGC’s own DEB, has rattled the distance education system. There is no need to emphasise the globally well-known fact that distance education provides accessibility, affordability, equity and continuity through life-long learning. All these ‘ities’ are bundled and thrown out by some of the DEB ‘expert committee’ recommendations, which not only lack statutory and regulatory source but are also arbitrary and unfair. For example, the DEB’s decision not to approve a university’s distance education programme if it is not offered in regular mode runs against our national policy of providing higher education to the deprived. The DEB’s decision is also against the spirit of UGC’s own SWAYAM Regulation 2016 allowing 20 per cent of a regular programme to be integrated with SWAYAM, a distance education MOOC platform that offers courses of other universities that may not offer such regular programmes. The lack of clarity in the operational approach of DEB on one hand is further compounded by exercising a power without any proper source.

The UGC in its June 2013 notification decided to adopt the DEC guidelines under the extant (but now repealed) Statute 28 of the IGNOU Act. This notification categorically stated that “modifications in these guidelines, if necessary, will be notified from time to time and in this, notification shall cease to be in force with effect from the date of coming into force of the UGC regulations on the subject mentioned therein”. No new regulation has been notified so far and without it as statutory backup or modifications in existing guidelines after following due process, an ‘expert committee’ decision without specific law or statutory rules runs contrary to the law laid down by many courts, including the apex court, in a catena of cases. There is an urgent need to come out of this year’s chaos. UGC should approve all existing distance programmes for the year 2016-17 and notify new regulations as per law for open and distance learning before the 2017-18 process starts. In short, distance education needs a needle pathway and not a noodles entanglement. –  Courtesy

Are open learning universities flouting UGC norms to offer PhD courses?

Gauri Kohli | Hindustan Times, New Delhi  |   Oct 04, 2016  |

A number of questions have arisen following the recent announcement by India’s largest open university, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) that it was resuming MPhil and PhD programmes scrapped by the University Grants Commission (UGC) more than two years ago. By doing so, has Ignou flouted UGC norms?  The recent UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil/PhD Degrees) Regulations, 2016, say ODL (open distance learning) institutions cannot offer MPhil and PhD programmes in the distance learning mode. There is also no clarity on PhD degrees in technical disciplines.  “Notwithstanding anything contained in these regulations or any other rule or regulation, for the time being in force, no university; institution, deemed to be a university and college shall conduct MPhil and PhD programmes through distance education mode. Part-time PhD will be allowed through distance mode, provided all the conditions mentioned in the PhD regulations are adhered to,” state the regulations.

According to Professor Ravindra Kumar, vice chancellor (incharge) Ignou, the UGC has permitted the university to start MPhil and PhD so long as it complies with the regulations. Other open universities have also approached the commission for permission to start PhDs in accordance with these norms. Professor Nageshwar Rao, vice chancellor, Uttarakhand State Open University, says, “We have also submitted our case with the UGC and are likely to get clearance on starting PhD courses. Others such as Uttar Pradesh Rajarshi Tandon Open University and MP Bhoj Open University have also approached the commission. They are likely to be granted permission, provided they adhere to the UGC norms laid down in the 2016 regulations.” Clarifying things, Professor Kumar says universities have not been barred from offering the MPhil and PhD programmes and there was a need for them to follow regulations “scrupulously.” It seemed the procedural aspects of MPhil/PhD programmes have not been carefully examined and some “blanket disapprovals have been made operational. If the universities have to follow the UGC regulations for MPhil and PhD 2016 scrupulously, there is no scope for the dilutions or deviations. This fuss about not permitting MPhil/PhD in distance education mode is frivolous and reflective of unfounded anxieties,” he says.

 UGC Regulations 2009 and 2016, he adds, make it clear that there has never been any embargo on the open universities from offering MPhil/PhD programmes (in regular mode). Both regulations say the degrees cannot be offered in the distance mode. UGC should not have singled out open universities. Differentiating between open and conventional universities was “an artificial division.” If there are functional problems in some cases in the open universities, there are similar problems in some cases in the conventional universities. So why single out the open universities, he asks.  Permitting part-time PhD provided all the regulations of UGC on PhD are met “was ironical,” he adds. “When the regulations are strictly enforced, where is the scope for part-time/full-time variation? And if there is scope for all these variations, the purpose of enforcing the regulations is defeated. There are some anomalies in these regulations that should be rectified,” he says.  Ignou stopped offering MPhil/PhD after a letter was issued by the UGC in 2014 asking the university to submit details of all its individual programmes and seek formal approval for their launch. “We were asked to give details of even certificate and diploma-level programmes and were told that we were not allowed to offer MPhil/PhD programmes. These programmes have been put on hold since then,” he says.

In a recent letter to universities across the country, the UGC secretary has said that as per the 2016 regulations, there are certain procedures which the universities need to follow. “These include eligibility criteria for admission to the MPhil/PhD programmes; duration of the programme, procedure for admission; allocation of research supervisors; course work; setting up of Research Advisory Committees; following the evaluation and assessment methods and submitting the electronic copy of thesis to an inter-university centre of UGC, besides other clauses,” says Professor Dr Jaspal S Sandhu, secretary, UGC, in the letter.  Ignou has not enrolled students since the time of the UGC directive. Many scholars enrolled till 2014 have not completed their work. “Such students are facilitated by the university to complete the programme as per regulations of the statutory bodies of the university and UGC regulations on MPhil and PhD of 2009,” says Professor Kumar.  Ignou’s PhD course that was stopped in 2014 was unconventional, says a senior university official. “Also, Ignou was not in the ambit of the UGC or the Distance Education Council as it has been established by an Act of Parliament,” says the official. –  Courtesy

SWAYAM platform: Modi government set to make online courses count towards college degree

The Economic Times | By Anubhuti Vishnoi, ET Bureau | 24 May, 2016 |

SWAYAM or Study Webs of Active –Learning for Young Aspiring Minds programme

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government is set to make online courses count towards the college degree.  University Grants Commission, the apex higher education regulator, sources said, has agreed to factor in scores achieved in official online courses towards total marks scored and transfer credits for them — a move that will mainstream online courses and increase their acceptability and credibility in the Indian higher education system. It will also allow students across institutions in India to take up courses which may not be available at their institute and also win credit for them. One condition is that the online courses must be one of the 400 plus courses on offer through the government-backed massive open online course (MOOC) platform SWAYAM . Also, no more than 20% of the total score can be achieved through SWAYAM courses. So an Institution can only allow up to 20% of the total courses being offered in a particular programme in a semester through the online learning courses provided through SWAYAM platform.

Online courses are so far only seen as complementary skillsets acquired by an enthusiastic student but they do not in any way reflect in the student’s marksheet or enhance his overall score. UGC will soon notify setting up of a standing committee for SWAYAM courses and a national MOOCs coordinator that will coordinate with all universities and institutions on the MOOCs on offer.  A special set of regulations — UGC (Credit Framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM) regulation 2016 — have been formulated under Section 26 of the UGC Act. It will provide for transfer of credits of such students who are enrolled as regular/part-time students in any educational institution in India. –  Courtesy

Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, Hexaware founder Atul Nishar invest in education startup Avagmah

The Times of India | Shilpa Phadnis | TNN | March 16, 2016 |

BENGALURU: Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan and Hexaware founder Atul Nishar have invested in Bengaluru-based Avagmah that enables universities and distance education providers to make higher education accessible to a broader audience. Avagmah, which means understanding or intelligence in Sanskrit, was founded in 2013 by NIT Kurukshetra alumnus Karthik KS, Sankar Bora, co-founder of Myntra, and Prasad Palla, who previously worked with Microsoft and Informatica. The company has raised $5 million in funding in last 18 months.  Avagmah’s existing investors including Lionrock Capital, Singapore, Ganesh Krishnan, serial entrepreneur, and Neeraj Bhargava, founder and CEO of Mumbai-based investment firm Zodius Capital have also participated in latest round.

Avagmah equips universities to enroll working professionals to pursue higher education from remote locations through its SaaS-based technology platform. About 45% of those enrolled on the Avagmah platform are from tier 2 & 3 cities.  “Students pursue courses that would supplement domain knowledge, but having a degree is important to get them a job,” said Karthik. Avagmah currently works with three universities — Pondicherry University, Bharathidasan University and Los Angeles-based UCLA Extension. In the last 18 months, it has enrolled 3,651 students. Avagmah offers MBA, BBA courses and other post-graduate degrees like those in finance and human resources.  The opportunity is huge as the enrollment ratio for higher education in India is 24% and the government has set an ambitious target of it to grow 30% by 2020. This would practically mean setting up of 1,400 colleges to meet the requirement, which is difficult.  Gopalakrishnan said he current brick and mortar higher education system s facing major challenges of excellence and access. – Courtesy       /

Avagmah: In keeping with this commitment, we work towards enabling universities and distance education providers leverage avagmah’s state-of-the-art education technology services that we call – ‘avagmah technology platform’ or just ‘ATP’.  The ATP is an amalgamation of cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and managed services solutions that enables universities increase reach and appeal of their programmes. With this, we offer a complete bouquet of services that include marketing, student counselling, virtual classroom, student engagement and retention in a seamless manner. The ATP, thus furnishes universities with the desired, comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to reach, attract, enrol, educate, support and graduate students; blending technology with their core i.e. academic curriculum and faculty expertise to extend high quality degree, diploma and certificate programmes to the deserving. –  http://www.avagmah.com/