Govt. bars varsities from conducting ODL courses

The government has barred Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi, Calicut and Kannur universities from inviting applications for courses in open and distance learning (ODL) and private registration modes.

The move comes in the wake of the Sree Narayana Guru Open University (SNGOU) applying for recognition by University Grants Commission (UGC)’s Distance Education Bureau of its ODL programmes.

In a circular sent to the universities, the Higher Education department has informed universities that they would be able to conduct admissions in such modes only if the fledgling university did not receive recognition as expected.

The government has in effect applied the prohibitive clause in the Sree Narayana Guru Open University Act that had brought distance education in Kerala entirely under the purview of SNGOU. While the law had come into effect in early 2021, the other universities were permitted to offer their courses after SNGOU reported its inability to launch academic programmes last year.

According to SNGOU Vice Chancellor P.M. Mubarak Pasha, a UGC team is expected to conduct an on-site verification next month. The university has submitted application to launch 12 undergraduate programmes and five postgraduate programmes.

The university recently appointed 46 teachers and five heads of schools. Moreover, the preparation of its study materials is also underway.

Roughly one lakh students enrol in various universities for ODL courses and under private registration. Calicut University, which has UGC’s recognition for its 24 programmes until 2025-26, has the highest intake of nearly 50,000 students every year on an average. It has many takers for courses such as BA Afzal-Ul-Ulma and BA Arabic that are combinations of three subjects.

Kerala University had also obtained recognition for 22 programmes until 2025-26 a year ago.

Students are bound to suffer from a shrinking bouquet of courses with the SNGOU vested with the authority to conduct ODL programmes. This could prompt many to enrol in universities outside the State.

Dr. Pasha said efforts were being made to introduce more courses, including science programmes, at the UG level next year.

The closure of Schools of Distance Education (SDEs) in other universities is also bound to result in considerable revenue loss for the universities. Considered a money-spinner for some, ODL courses have been fetching Calicut University around ₹20 crore annually, sources said.

While most teachers of SDEs will be deployed to their parent departments, some who have been hired on contractual basis will suffer the termination of their services by way of the transition. The cessation of private registrations will also lead to the closure of parallel colleges.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2022 8:33:19 pm |