Noting that Institutions offering education through distance mode are not disclosing full information regarding their Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes to prospective students and the public, the UGC on Wednesday directed such institutions to put up detailed information covering all aspects of ODL programmes on their official websites.
The latest notification also comes in the light of reports earlier this year that some universities are violating UGCs policy by issuing misleading advertisements that their programmes are recognized by the UGC. Some Institutes were involved in conducting technical degree programmes in distance education mode.
Since December 2012, the UGC has taken over the regulatory functions with regard to Distance Education programmes in higher education from the erstwhile Distance Education Council. Since then, it has implemented several measures to maintain standards of distance education programmes. Currently, a total of 128 universities and institutions offering academic programmes under ODL mode are recognised by the UGC.
Following this direction, along with the titles of the courses offered, the Institutions are now required to display information regarding approval of the statutory bodies of the University, upload complete approval letters of the regulatory bodies, and provide details of academic calendar of such programmes.
Moreover, to help prospective students get a comprehensive view of the course they wish to enrol in, UGC has also mandated disclosing information regarding number of students who enrolled, appeared, and passed the exam under ODL courses during the last three academic sessions. Details of faculty and the minimum qualification of subject coordinators and counsellors at the study centres are to be displayed online as well.
Further, a list of study centres and examination centres with complete addresses and details of course co-ordinators and support services will now be available on their programme websites along with the information regarding availability of online Self Learning Material (SLM).
The UGC also took cognizance of the practice followed by some institutions of asking personal details from students before giving out basic information regarding these courses and has directed them to upload complete information in a transparent manner within 15 days.
Prior to this notification, released on August 24, UGC had come out with a policy of forbidding institutions to conduct examination for their distance learning programmes outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction. Distance education institute, therefore, cannot conduct examination outside their States or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.
Misleading Advertisement by Educational Institutions is biggest corruption in education. The solution is absolute transparency and disclosure. This is a positive step towards eliminating Misleading Advertisement.
In any case, “Right to Information” is a fundamental right and it should certainly extend to providing information to the prospective students so that they can make the correct decision.