Distance learning, online degrees should be treated the same as regular courses: UGC

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in a recent notification has made it clear that degrees or diplomas awarded through online modes or by Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions should be treated the same as those from ordinary establishments. The commission highlighted the Open and Distance Learning Programs and Online Programs Regulations 2020 which specifies “the equivalence of qualifications acquired through conventional or open and distance learning and modes on line”.

Under this order, it is mentioned that “Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in accordance with the UGC Notification on Degree Specifications, 2014 and postgraduate degrees issued in open and distance learning mode and / or in online by higher education institutions, recognized by the Commission under this Regulation, will be treated as equivalent to the corresponding degrees of the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and the postgraduate degrees offered by the conventional mode.

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The notification further states: “This is intended to inform the general public, students and other stakeholders.”

Previously, the UGC had solicited suggestions and comments from various stakeholders on the draft amendments it had prepared for the ODL and online programs. The initiative has been taken to ensure a simple ODL and online programming framework.

The draft amendments extended the National Assessment Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ratings by three years, which were previously valid until 2020-2021. From now on, the marks are valid for the 2021-2022, 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 sessions. According to the project, the commission will review the grades after the three academic years.

In a public notice, the UGC announced: “Bearing in mind the 2020 National Education Policy (NEP) recommendation to have a gross enrollment ratio (GER) of 50% by 2035 and To further promote ODL and online education, UGC has formed an expert panel to review existing ODL and online regulatory framework while ensuring quality, through a streamlined recognition system and processes.

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