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AICTE to conduct test for students whose distance engineering degrees were suspended by SC

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey | Dec 03, 2017 | New Delhi |

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has started the process of registration of such students who will get an opportunity to write a test following which their degrees will stand validated.

Days after the University Grants Commission (UGC) suspended the degrees awarded to students of four deemed universities, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has started the process of registration of such students who will get an opportunity to write a test following which their degrees will stand validated. The AICTE and UGC on Sunday started the registration of candidates enrolled in deemed-to-be universities from 2001 to 2005 and were awarded degrees/diplomas in engineering through distance mode. Candidates have been given time till January 15 to register for the test. The degrees will remain suspended till they clear it, officials said. Officials said that the entrance exam will be conducted in May or June. “All the degrees of the students remain suspended. The last date for registration is January 15 and students need to register online. A written as well as practical examination will be conducted for the students,” reads the public notice issued by AICTE.

 Four institutes — JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan, Advanced Studies in Education, Rajasthan (IASE), Allahabad Agricultural Institute, (AAI), and Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu, (VMRF)— have been conducting distance engineering programmes without necessary approvals, including that from the UGC or AICTE. The Supreme Court last month had suspended the degrees awarded by them between 2001 and 2005 while the degrees awarded through distance learning by the deemed universities to students admitted after 2005 stand cancelled. The universities have been directed by the court to return the tuition fee and other expenditure incurred by the students. The Supreme Court had also restrained “all deemed-to-be universities to carry on any courses in distance education mode from the academic session 2018-2019 onwards unless and until it is permissible to conduct such courses in distance education mode and specific permissions are granted by the concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned statutory authorities”. AICTE rules mandate that engineering degrees cannot be offered through distance education mode. – Courtesy
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GATE-like test for students with cancelled engineering degrees from these 3 deemed universities

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey |  Nov 06, 2017 | New Delhi |

AICTE is considering an aptitude test for students who obtained engineering degrees from JRN Rajasthan Vidhyapeeth University, Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation and IASE Deemed University.

Representational image

Days after the Supreme Court cancelled engineering degrees granted since 2001 by three deemed universities through the distance education mode, the Union HRD ministry has called a meeting of the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Monday to protect the interests of hundreds who could be affected by the move, people familiar with the matter said. JRN Rajasthan Vidhyapeeth University, Udaipur; Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu; and IASE Deemed University, Rajasthan — have been conducting distance engineering programmes without necessary approvals, including that from the UGC or the All India Council for Technical Education or AICTE.  The people said that the country’s apex technical education regulator AICTE is considering conducting an aptitude test for students who received degrees from these universities between 2001 and 2005 so that they are not affected. If they clear this GATE-like test it will validate their degrees, the people added.

GATE stands for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering and is conducted jointly by some of the country’s best engineering colleges including the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology for admission to post-graduate programmes.  The test being considered by the ministry is in keeping with the Supreme Court’s directive. The degrees awarded through distance learning by the three deemed universities to students admitted after 2005 stand cancelled. The universities have been directed by the court to return the tuition fee and other expenditure incurred by the students.  “We are examining the court order and may consider a GATE-like exam for which modalities will be worked out,” said a senior AICTE official.  AICTE rules mandate that engineering degrees cannot be offered through distance education mode. Officials at the regulator told Hindustan Times that they are working on a blended learning mode.

Officials in the HRD ministry said the HRD minister would meet UGC officials to discuss the issue related to the deemed universities and technical education programmes being offered through the distance education mode. “UGC has not allowed engineering courses through the distance mode. Currently, as per the HRD ministry the regulatory powers on open and distance learning (ODL) is vested with the UGC,” one of the officials said. Recently, UGC notified the Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017. The commission, through the regulations, laid down the minimum standards of instruction for the grant of degree at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels through the open and distance learning mode. The Supreme Court on Friday also restrained “all deemed-to-be universities to carry on any courses in distance education mode from the academic session 2018-2019 onwards unless and until it is permissible to conduct such courses in distance education mode and specific permissions are granted by the concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned statutory authorities”. – Courtesy

SC ban on engineering degree through correspondence: 10 key points and developments

Nov 06, 2017 | 09:54 IST | Times Now Digital

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Friday passed an order banning correspondence courses in technical education. Apart from banning any such courses in future, SC has also asked the All India Council of Technical Education to re-conduct examination for all the students who have acquired their engineering degrees through correspondence. The immediate effect of the order has brought lakhs of students under the ambit. Here is the list of development and how it progressed in 10 key points. While the actual number of students affected by the order remains unknown, the estimate suggests that around a lakh and a half students from the four deemed universities would be directly affected. The order has also brought under lens the many ‘deemed’ universities that continue to offer correspondence courses in engineering to diploma holders. SC bench headed by Justice Lalit penned a 118 page verdict. Here are the 10 Key highlights of the verdict and the road ahead explained.

1. Supreme Court has in its order affirmed Punjab and Haryana High Court’s finding and set aside a previous order of Odisha High Court when it banned the ‘deemed universities’ to offer technical courses like engineering through correspondence or distance learning.

2. As per the order, engineering degrees of students of four deemed universities — JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (IASE), Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute (AAI) and Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu, will remain suspended.

3. AICTE has been directed to conduct examination for these students latest by January 15, 2018. Students who fail to clear the examination would summarily loose their degrees. However, the degrees of the students who pass the exam would be accordingly reinstated.

4. Students would be given a maximum of 2 tries to clear the examination conducted by AICTE. If the students do not successfully clear the examination within the stipulated time, their degrees will stand cancelled and every single advantage on the basis of that degree shall also stand withdrawn, it said.

5. Monetary benefits gained by students during the time by means of the degree, however, would not be recovered from them. What this means is that in case someone was given a job on the basis of such a degree, then the job would stand suspended. However, the earnings of the person, would not be recovered.

6. Candidates/ students have the ‘choice’ of not writing the examination. These students, would then be eligible to claim a full refund of the tuition fee from these institutes within a month of such claim. However, the degrees of these students would be summarily canceled and all benefits withdrawn. – Courtesy

Supreme Court bans deemed universities from offering engineering courses in distance mode

Deccan Herald | DH News Service | New Delhi, Nov 3 2017 |

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit also raised serious questions over the institutions being allowed to use the word ‘university’ and asked the government to restrain them from use of the word.

Supreme Court on Friday ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed a group of deemed universities to offer engineering courses in distance education, as it took a critical view of such institutions. A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit also raised serious questions over the institutions being allowed to use the word ‘university’ and asked the government to restrain them from use of the word. In a series of orders, the bench banned deemed universities from offering engineering courses through distance education from 2018-19 academic year, instructing them not to do so without the sanction of AICTE.  Lamenting that extensive commercialization has robbed higher education of credibility and standard; the bench said it seriously compromised knowledge and impacted excellence and merit. It also asked government to set up a three-member panel to develop roadmap to strengthen higher education and come up with a regulatory system in six months.

“The UGC had completely failed to remedy the situation,” the bench said in its 118-page judgement highlighting failure of monitoring and regulating ‘deemed-to-be-universities.’ “Serious question has therefore arisen as to the manning of the UGC itself for its effective working,” it noted. IT ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed Vinayaka Mission’s research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu, IASE Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr Rajasthan, JRN Vidyapeeth Udaipur, Rajasthan and Allahabad Agriculture Research Institute, Allahabad to offer B Tech and B E courses in distance education mode. It also ordered the UGC to consider if the ‘deemed university’ status enjoyed by the institutions could be withdrawn as they violated policies and norms.

Citing the affidavit of the then UGC Chairman Ved Prakash detailing how the institutes were allowed to offer courses, the bench raised serious doubt over the approach and conduct of the higher education regulator. “On one hand, the authorities were proclaiming their policy statements and on the other, despite there being complaints, they went about granting permissions,” it noted. The issue came up before the apex court following conflicting orders by Orissa and Punjab and Haryana High Courts. While the Orissa HC had approved engineering degrees awarded to serving diploma holders through ‘Off-Campus Study Centres’, Punjab and Haryana HC took a contrary view. The court ordered to suspend degrees awarded to students by the four institutions in the 2001-05 academic session. It asked AICTE to hold a test in May 2018-19 and recall degrees given to students who fail. Asking the varsities to refund fees collected on the course if the students do not wish to appear for the AICTE test, the court also ordered to withdraw any jobs or benefits taken by the students on the basis of those degrees. It ordered to cancel degrees awarded after the academic session 2001-05 and withdraw any jobs given on that basis. – Courtesy   /   Click here to download / view the Judgement – 118 pages, pdf

No technical education through correspondence courses: Supreme Court

The Indian Express | Express Web Desk | New Delhi | November 3, 2017 |

The Supreme court hailed the decision of Punjab and Haryana Court that had issued a similar order against the distance education in the technical courses two years back.

 

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that technical education can not be provided through the process of correspondence courses. Setting aside Odisha High Court order, the apex court restrained educational institutions from providing courses in subjects like engineering in the distance education mode. The Supreme court hailed the decision of Punjab and Haryana Court that had issued a similar order against the distance education in the technical courses two years back. The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled out a degree in computer science through a distance education. In their order, they said it will not be same as the person who is attending the regular college. – Courtesy

‘No technical education via correspondence courses,’ rules Supreme Court  – The Times of India

Amit Anand Choudhary |  TIMES OF INDIA.COM |  Nov 3, 2017 |

Highlights

  • The apex court restrained educational institutions from providing courses in subjects like engineering, in the distance education mode
  • With its ruling, the SC affirmed the findings of the Punjab and Haryana high court on the issue
  • Also with its ruling, the SC set aside a verdict by the Odisha high court, which allowed technical education by correspondence

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday ruled that technical education cannot be provided via correspondence courses.    The apex court restrained educational institutions from providing courses in subjects like engineering, in the distance education mode.  In ruling against distance education in these courses, the top court affirmed the findings of the Punjab and Haryana high court on the issue. And in doing that, the SC set aside a verdict by the Odisha high court, which allowed technical education by correspondence. Two years ago, the Punjab and Haryana high court ruled that a degree in ‘computer science’ obtained through distance mode could not considered on par with one attained by attending regular classes. – Courtesy

Khan Academy to create educational videos in Indian languages

Live Mint | Sarah Zia | 01 November 2017 |

Khan Academy, the online provider of educational videos, is expected to release content in Gujarati, Bengali and Hindi by 2018

New Delhi: Khan Academy, a non-profit education organisation, is set to launch content in Indian languages. By 2018, the online provider of educational videos is expected to release content in Gujarati, Bengali and Hindi. “Currently, the content on Khan Academy’s portal which is also tailored to the Indian curriculum is available in English,” said Sandeep Bapna, managing director, Khan Academy India. “The vernacular content will not be dubbed but will be recustomised in local languages to tap the hinterland market in India.” To this end, Khan Academy entered into an agreement with the Karnataka government which will be recreating the content in Kannada for use across government schools in the state. According to Bapna, collaborating with the state government is one of the fastest ways of scaling the content available on the portal in local languages. “This content will be hosted on sub-domains and students can choose whether they would prefer content in English or their mother tongue,” he added.

Explaining the need for recreating the content in local languages, Bapna said that this was not just a content library but more like a personalized tutor. “The portal has content which tracks a user’s progress and suggests recommendations accordingly with the audio in the background sounding like one’s friend,” he elaborated. ile the portal provides content related to maths, science and engineering, computing, arts and humanities, economics and finance as well as preparatory material for tests such as SAT and GMAT, only the maths and physics content has been mapped to the Indian curriculum. This includes roughly 5,500 videos and over 20,000 exercises across the two subjects. “While the focus is on maths and physics currently, we plan to map other subjects such as social science as well to the Indian curriculum By the end of 2018,” said Bapna.  An estimated 1 million users from India access the content on Khan Academy. The content is also accessible over the app where users can access low-bandwidth videos.  Further, the second edition of an India Talent Search has been launched to scout for content creators in English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil. The search is aimed at identifying those who could create lucid explanatory videos for complex concepts. “We are not going to judge entry videos for production values but on how one chooses to explain a concept,” said Bapna. The last date for sending entries is 17 December. – Courtesy

Distance education: institutes must become deemed-to-be varsities

Deccan Chronicle | Prakash Kumar | DH News Service | Oct 19 2017 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has amended its ODL regulations for this

NEW DELHI : Standalone higher educational institutions, which offer various certificate and post-graduate diploma programmes in the open and distance learning (ODL) mode, will have to qualify for deemed university status to continue their operations from the next academic session. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has amended its ODL regulations for this.  The revised UGC (ODL) regulations, 2017 are applicable to all standalone institutions which have been offering distance education with the approval of the erstwhile Distance Education Council (DEC) under the Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou).  The standalone higher educational institutions include those which are not affiliated or recognised by any university.

“Certificates, diplomas or post-graduate diplomas awarded by the standalone institutions, which have also been approved by the commission based on the policies of the then Distance Education Council till the academic year 2016-17, shall remain valid programmes till the academic session 2017-18,” the UGC said, notifying the changes in its ODL regulations in an official gazette on October 11. “Thereafter, they shall be free to get their standalone institution status converted to university or deemed-to-be-university for the purpose of these ODL regulations, failing which, the commission shall not accord any approval to the ODL programmes of standalone institutions,” it said. This comes after many standalone institutions faced UGC regulations banning them from offering any distance education programmes earlier this year, even though they were running the courses with the approval of the DEC. Some of these institutions, including Maharashtra Academy of Engineering and Research, approached the Delhi High Court, seeking relief. Hearing their petition, a division bench of the high court recently directed the government to let all approved standalone institutions continue offering distance education programmes, as approved by the DEC, in the current academic session of 2017-18. It also held that petitioners may, in the meantime, commence the process of admissions to the courses they offer. – Courtesy

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

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