Distance learning: keep your eyes open

Gross rule violation in offering correspondence courses has prompted the UGC to ask students to be cautious while choosing such courses, reports G. KRISHNAKUMAR.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked students and parents to be cautious while choosing higher educational institutions offering programmes through the open and distance learning (ODL) mode.

The move comes after the apex education regulator found that some universities, deemed to be universities, and institutions are offering programmes through the ODL mode in gross violation of the existing rules and regulations. The commission made it clear that it has not accorded recognition to any university or institution to offer ‘online’ programmes.

In a public notice issued on June 4, the UGC Secretary pointed out that State universities (both public and private) could not set up their off-campus/study centres outside the State where they had been established.

“And, even within the State, private universities are required to take prior permission of the UGC to establish their study centre/off-campus [centres].

Similarly, deemed to be universities are required to take prior permission of the UGC to establish any off-campus centre/study centre outside their main campus,” it said.

No university, institution deemed to be university or institution is permitted to offer diploma, bachelor or master-level programmes under the ODL mode in Engineering and Technology.

The UGC had not given approval to any university to start open and distance learning study centres outside the country. Universities should offer only programmes that were approved by the UGC, and follow its policy on territorial jurisdiction, study centres, and non-franchising of study centres for offering programmes through the distance mode.

As per the UGC guidelines, a Central or State university can conduct courses through its own departments, constituent colleges, or through its affiliated colleges.

A university established or incorporated by or under a State Act should operate only within the territorial jurisdiction allotted to it under the Act, and in no case beyond the territory of the State where the university is located.

Affiliation norms

Private universities and deemed universities cannot affiliate any college or institution for conducting courses leading to award of its diplomas, degrees, or other qualifications.

Students and parents could log on to www.ugc.ac.in/deb to get the list of the recognised institutions (along with the courses), which are permitted to offer programmes through ODL mode.

The commission also pointed out that qualifications acquired through the ODL mode from a non-recognised institution of higher learning “shall neither be recognised for the purpose of employment in government service nor for pursuing higher education.”

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