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UGC may relax norms, Distance learning may be promoted


New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) is likely to relax norms to allow more institutes to offer open and distance learning courses to make up for the learning loss due to the lockdown imposed in late March to check the Covid-19 spread, officials aware of the matter said.

The issue of setting a new benchmark for these institutions to commence the courses was discussed at a meeting of UGC, the higher education regulator, on Thursday.

“Last year, it had been stipulated that institutions, which have an accreditation score of 3.26 or above, will be allowed to offer ODL [open and distance learning] courses. Several institutions, especially state universities and private ones, have scored less than one. If this norm is followed, these would be unable to offer ODL courses. At the meeting, it was discussed that the criteria should be relaxed and brought to an accreditation score of 3 for universities to offer ODL, or correspondence courses, as they are popularly known,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grades universities and those scoring above 3 on a scale of 4 are counted as A-grade institutions.

UGC come out with norms recently to ensure only the best institutions offer open and distance learning courses.

Officials said that many UGC members at the Thursday’s meeting cited the situation in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and said it will be better to allow institutions with lesser scores to offer these courses at least for a year. It was felt the benchmark of a NAAC score of 3 should be allowed. “…once a final call is taken, UGC will officially announce it,” said the official cited above.

Among other decisions taken at the meeting related to the signing of MoUs with some universities chosen as Institutes of Eminence (IoE) for greater autonomy. The official said Tamil Nadu’s Anna University and Jadavpur University (Kolkata) were likely to be granted the status as well.

“In the case of these two universities, the state governments had not shown eagerness to contribute their share of Rs 1,000 crore grant… It is likely they will be conferred the status with the Centre paying its share of Rs 500 crore. However, after looking at all aspects UGC and [union] HRD [human resource development ministry] will make the declaration,” said the official.



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