15% Universities with Top NAAC Score to Offer Online Degree Courses to improve GER ratio in higher studies

15% Universities with Top NAAC Score to Offer Online Degree Courses

There is some good news for the students and working people, who want to enhance their academic qualification anytime, anywhere. For the first time, Government of India will allow nearly 15% of universities, having top NAAC Score to offer online degree courses. The online degree courses, however, will be non-technical in nature, implying they exclude degrees in engineering and medicine.

In the 65th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on higher education on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, it has been resolved to allow Higher education institutions (HEI) with top National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) ratings to offer three-year degree programmes through open and distance learning (ODL) mode.

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These degrees through open and online mode will be treated at par with regular courses. The meeting also resolved to make efforts to increase the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education to 30% in next five years. Through such online degree courses, the problem of access to colleges, faced in several parts of India can also be addressed.

For the quality of education, as some believe the move may compromise quality, Government has the plan to allow only those Universities which have NAAC grade of A+ and A++  ratings and also will be able to offer the programmes on ODL mode and these will be delivered online.

Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar was quoted saying by ToI that the rules and guidelines for the same would be notified by February 2018. The University Grants Commission (UGC)  is working to finalize the rules.

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Nearly 15% Universities in the country accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and rated above A+ will be allowed to offer such three-year degree online courses. Moreover, Other institutions that want to offer or already offering such courses but have poor NAAC rating will be allowed a window of two years to achieve the A+ level in NAAC accreditation else they will have to discontinue the programmes.

Minister Javadekar was quoted saying by Livemint that this new environment will be created not only the students but also for working executives anytime from anywhere to learn while earn without travelling the distance. As adoption of technology in India is huge, this new online course can be leveraged to boost higher education.

There would be certain norms that will be applicable to all concerned institutes but those will be free to decide their curriculum and set their question papers to be it multiple choice questions or subjective questions.

The aim of government behind this online education is to increase the interest for the higher studies among youth. This will help to achieve the target of GER in higher education in the country, which at present is 25.2% as against more than 70% in the US. The government wanted to improve the GER significantly. CABE will make efforts to increase the GER to 30% in next five years.

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The GER varies across several states. For example, while the proportion of students pursuing tertiary education in Bihar is 14% and 21% in Odisha, it is 47% in Tamil Nadu. Besides this, CABE resolved to take positive action to plug regional disparities and states to prepare perspective plan along with bringing accountability for all stakeholders.

The CABE committee also resolved to take necessary steps to ensure that no deserving student should be denied opportunity to have higher education for lack of means. They felt in the slogan “Padega India to Aage Badega India”.

Key Highlights of Online Degree Courses Scheme

  • Nearly 15% institutions with top NAAC score of A+ and A++ will be able to offer 3-year degree course through open and online mode.
  • These online degree courses will be treated at par with regular courses.
  • Other institutions that want to offer or already offering such courses but have poor NAAC rating will be allowed a window of two years to achieve the A+ level in NAAC accreditation else they will have to discontinue the programmes.
  • In 2016-17, India had 864 Universities, more than 40,000 colleges and 11,669 stand-alone institutes catering to more than 35.7 million students across the country.

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Key Challenges for Online Degree Courses Scheme

  • It will be in direct conflict with distance education;
  • The experience worldwide is that open online courses have not been a spectacular success; and
  • The evaluation of students will be a difficult task. Besides, Indian higher education is not staffed sufficiently to manage the existing number of students.

The online course will be different from the regular correspondence course as it will allow students from outside the state to register and take the course. At present, a state university cannot offer correspondence courses through distance mode to students residing outside the state boundary.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

The annual status of education report (ASER) is also published on Tuesday, which measures the learning ability of young people in the age group of 14-18 years, found that 73% used a mobile phone. 

With mobile phone availability and usage on the rise, experts and education reformers are hopeful that some ways will be sorted out for the challenges and the existing ecosystem may be more welcoming to the idea of online learning.

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