UGC again bans technical distance learning degrees

The University Grants Commission (UGC), has removed a policy move taken by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for recognizing technical education received through distance learning by again putting a ban on these degrees.

The central government body has taken out a public notice making such courses provided by colleges to be a violation of policy regarding programmes in open and distance learning (ODL) mode.

It has also stated that it won't be giving recognition to institution providing distance programme in technical education and that a qualification of such kind would not make the student eligible for higher studies or for employment in government services.

The move taken by UGC is against the ministry's decision last year which stated that diplomas, degrees as well as certificates provided by universities through the ODL would be considered for government jobs.

UGC notice shared on its official website

The ministry's stand was in line with suggestions given by Madhav Menon committee, which was of the view that recognition of technical education from distance mode is coherent with National Policy of Education and should be permitted through usage of study material for theory component as well as compulsory practical component for developing requisite skill.

The panel recommended face-to-face counselling sessions on weekends for clarification or removal of doubts. On the other hand, the practical work would use laboratory experiments in some recognized colleges. Unfortunately, the UGC has shoved MHRD notification along with ignoring suggestions of Menon committee.

A legal expert working in education field, Ravi Bharadwaj, opined that the latest notice was a regressive move and is against the aspirations of many. Furthermore, he added that the need was to develop an alternative education mode for supplementing regular education system through policy initiatives for making it easier to expand higher education sector for fulfilling aspirations of the deprived ones.

Institutions like Osmania University running for over 10 decades have not found a place in the Commission's updated list for the distance learning programmes.

There is a sense of confusion between the two top-notch bodies but the state-run Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) will go by the orders of the UGC.

YCMOU vice-chancellor M M Salunkhe stated that even though MHRD is a policy-making body, UGC is the executive for such decisions. Hence, the institutions will follow UGC order despite the contradictory decisions. In addition, he added that all the focus would be on Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 that needs to be cleared by Parliament.

The bill aims to cover technical education under ODL mode. He felt that the institutions globally are focused on ODL mode and the same needs to be adopted in India.

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