Future of higher education lies in ODL: UGC official

20 lakh distance learners take admission in 113 open universities in the July cycle of enrolment

Updated - September 07, 2019 08:10 am IST

Published - September 07, 2019 01:18 am IST - MYSURU

Pratap Simha, Mysuru MP, felicitating UGC Joint Secretary Avichal Kapur in Mysuru on Friday.

Pratap Simha, Mysuru MP, felicitating UGC Joint Secretary Avichal Kapur in Mysuru on Friday.

University Grants Commission (UGC) Joint Secretary Avichal Kapur on Friday said the enrolment in distance education has shown a substantial rise and about 20 lakh distance learners had taken admissions in 113 open universities for the July cycle. The future of education will be in Open Distance Learning (ODL) and open universities need to be prepared to make it successful, he added.

Speaking at the inauguration of two-day All India Open Universities’ Vice-Chancellors’ Conference on the Role of Open Universities in 21st century: Issues and Challenges here, Mr. Kapur said at least 50 lakh students had enrolled for ODL courses in the last three years. About 15% of all enrolments were in the ODL system and added that there is a great demand for the courses since they are on a par with conventional courses offered by dual-mode or conventional universities. ODL has been playing a pivotal role in improving the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education, he explained.

Mr. Kapur said IGNOU had been permitted to offer distance education online with the UGC striving to bring credibility to the distance education system, coming up with regulations for the ODL system in a bid to address concerns over the same. He said the degrees awarded by State Open Universities (SOUs) were on a par with degrees of conventional universities. “Only the mode of learning differs.”

However, a general watch had been kept on the open universities to ensure quality education and accordingly the UGC had introduced certain initiatives two years ago catering to ODL system. However, the UGC has no plans of regulating SOUs but only intended to hand hold them and the play the role of a facilitator, he explained.

Neither the UGC nor the universities can flout rules. A core group of 400 experts had been formed to guide the universities. A working group headed by the deputy chairman of UGC to resolve issues of both open and dual-mode universities was formed, Mr. Kapur said.

The UGC was launching a slew of new initiatives including a web portal giving user IDs and password to each university to keep track of their performance.

Mysuru MP Pratap Simha inaugurated the conference as Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Higher Education C.N. Ashwathnarayana, who was supposed to inaugurate it, could not make it to the event.

Vice-Chancellor Vidyashankar S. presided. MLC Sandesh Nagaraj, former KSOU V-C and Conference Chair N.S. Rame Gowda, Registrar B. Ramesh, and V-Cs of over a dozen open universities were present.

The future of 95,000 students hangs in the balance: Pratap Simha

Pratap Simha, MP, Mysuru, on Friday said the KSOU lost its recognition four years ago not because of the UGC but because of its own faults and the UGC should not held responsible for what happened to the State’s only open university.

Speaking after inaugurating the two-day All India Open Universities’ Vice-Chancellors’ Conference at KSOU here, the MP, who thanked the UGC for restoring KSOU’s recognition, said the fate of 95,000-plus students (enrolled in 2013-14 and 2014-15) was hanging in balance.

“The State government has agreed to recognise the degrees of these students but the UGC needs to ratify these degrees to get relief. The students’ matter was in the courts. The Centre wants justice for the students as their future is in jeopardy. The onus is on the KSOU to fight the case in the Supreme Court. The Centre was open to resolve all the issues,” the MP said.

Without taking names, Mr. Simha hit out at previous VCs of the KSOU during whose tenure the alleged anomalies occurred.

“The past VCs had no time to attend meetings fixed by me with the MHRD and UGC’s top brass to address problems. The KSOU got back its recognition after a great struggle and I only wish that it should be known henceforth for good reasons only,” the MP said, in an obvious reference to the gross violations committed by it which led to its de-recognition.

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