Disclose full information about distance learning programmes: UGC to Institutes

UGC2Noting 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.

EduLegaL View:

Education Law and Policy

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.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

UGC asks colleges to submit online compliance of anti-ragging measures

UGC2Reiterating its tough stance on the issue of curbing the menace of ragging, the UGC recently released a notification asking colleges to submit an online report of compliance of Anti-ragging Regulations of 2009. It has further warned educational institutes of punitive action if they do not act in accordance with the Regulations or fail to take adequate steps to prevent ragging and punish perpetrators of incidents of ragging suitably.

‘Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutes, 2009’ were notified by the UGC in pursuance to the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the University of Kerala v. the Council of Principals of Colleges in Kerala’.  These regulations are mandatory and apply to all Universities. Among other things, they require institutes to step up anti-ragging mechanism by adequately publicising its anti-ragging stance through various mediums, setting up of anti-ragging committee and squad, installing CCTV cameras at vital points, organizing workshops and seminars on eradication of ragging, and displaying anti-ragging posters at prominent places.

They further require colleges to have regular interaction and counselling with students, to mention anti-ragging warning in the institution’s prospectus and information booklet, and to hold surprise inspection of hostels and other premises vulnerable to ragging practices.

Against this background, UGC has requested universities to instruct all colleges under their purview to submit an online compliance of anti-ragging regulations. The notification also states that the National Anti-ragging Helpline has been set up for students in distress.

Citing the second amendment in the UGC regulations, the notification further makes it compulsory for each student and every parent to submit an online undertaking every academic year at www.antiragging.com and www.amanmovement.org. The expanded definition of ragging to include racial, ethnic and casteist remarks as broadened by the third amendment has also found its mention in the notice.

EduLegaL View:

edulegal imageConstant reiteration of anti-ragging policy is a necessary and a positive step against curbing the menace of ragging that has infected higher educational institutions in India for a long time. Eradicating this menace by creating awareness on its ill-effects can only be achieved with a sincere co-operation from institutions. Latest UGC notification requiring online submission of compliance report is a constructive step towards that goal.

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read other related stories:

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

Racial and ethnic discrimination may be included under Ragging

UGC Notifies Regulations for Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

UGC2UGC recognising the need to widen the access to higher education through technology has released the Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by establishing a indigenous platform of learning, named as SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds) and also prescribed regulatory mechanism to allow seamless connect between the online learning and the regular class room learning.

The Regulations, shall facilitate transfer of credits of such students who are enrolled as regular/part-time students in any educational institution in India through ‘Four quadrant approach’, wherein the

Quadrant-I is e-Tutorial: that shall contain: Video and Audio Content in an organised form, Animation, Simulations, Virtual Labs,

Quadrant-II is e-Content: that shall contain: PDF/e-Books/illustration, video demonstrations, documents and Interactive simulations wherever required. •

Quadrant-III is Web Resources: that shall contain: Related Links, Open Content on Internet, Case Studies, An ecdotalin formation, Historical development of the subject, Articles and

Quadrant-IV is Self-Assessment : that shall contain: MCQ, Problems, Quizzes, Assignments andsolutions, Discussion forum topics and setting up the FAQ, Clarifications on general misconceptions.

The ‘National MOOCs Coordinator’ (NMC) a Nation level agency designated under the Regulations, for coordinating the production of the online courses and for overseeing their quality shall identify the Institutions, which desire to offer online courses in the forthcoming semester on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution keeping in view their academic requirements, decide upon the courses, which it shall permit for credit transfer.

However, there are some limitations on an Institution offering course on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution has to show that there is non-availability of suitable teaching staff for running a particular course in the Institution or the facilities for offering the elective papers (courses), sought for by the students are not on offer in the Institution, but are available on the SWAYAM platform and also that the courses offered on SWAYAM would supplement the teaching-learning process in the Institution. In any case, the Institution has to ensure that the physical facilities like Laboratories, computer facilities, library etc, essential for pursuing the courses shall be made available free and in adequate measure by the parent institution. The parent institution must also designate a course coordinator/facilitator to guide the students throughout the course and to facilitate/conduct the Lab/Practical sessions/examinations.

mooc3Every student, aspiring to have credit transfer through MOOC Courses, would be required to register for the MOOCs for that course/paper. Their performance would be evaluated by a host institution and the PI shall be responsible for evaluating the students registered for the MOOCs course launched by him/her. The evaluation should be based on predefined norms and parameters and shall be based on a comprehensive evaluation throughout the length and breadth of course based on specified instruments like discussions, forums, quizzes, assignments, sessional examinations and final examination.

The Regulation, though paves route for online learning, but surprisingly it leaves discretion with the PI to decide on the mode of conducting the final examination, which may also be pen and paper method.

After conduct of the examination and completion of the evaluation, the PI through the host institution shall award marks/grade as per the evaluation scheme and communicate to the students and parent institution, which shall incorporate the marks/grade obtained by the student, in the marks sheet of the student that counts for final award of the degree with the proviso that the programs in which Lab/Practical Component is involved, the parent institution will evaluate the students for the practical/Lab component and accordingly incorporate these marks/grade in the overall marks/grade.

The parent Institution shall give the equivalent credit weightage to the students for the credits earned through online learning courses through SWAYAM platform in the credit plan of the program for the purpose of credit mobility.

UGC has also asked the Universities to amend their Ordinances, Rules, Regulations etc., to incorporate provisions of these Regulations for the purpose of seamless Integration of MOOCs and also has warned them from refusing any student for credit mobility for the courses earned through MOOCs.

UGC shall notify a Standing committee to resolve any issues that may arise in the implementation of these regulations during the transition period of three years.

EduLegaL View:

No doubt it is a good start! and a great leap for wider access to higher education.

But, I think the slowly the “centralized” system of e-learning has to give way for independent online hosting of courses also.

Today there is no regulation in the country, which empowers an Institution to conduct online learning. The proposed Distance Education Council of India Bill makes provision for the same. It is required that regulation should be in place obviously with prescribed standards to allow Institutions to conduct online course, and not just enabling credit transfer.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

No Examination Centre outside State for Distance Education Institutes: UGC

UGC2UGC has now issued a circular that a Distance Education Institute cannot conduct Examination outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

UGC, taking cognizance of the fact that some Institutions / Universities / Institutions Deemed to be Universities are conducting examinations for their Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction, in violation of UGC policy on ODL norms and territorial jurisdiction.

UGC feels that such practice of conducting examination outside is wholly illegal and have asked the Institutes to stop setting up examination centres and conducting exams outside the State of their locationexam-centre2
or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

Edulegal View:

I feel this circular is against the ethos of open and distance learning. What is the harm if one State based Distance Education University, though not operating outside the state, for the convenience of students outside the state, conducts examinations for them outside the state.

Does this circular mean that, a student residing in Punjab but enrolled in a Distance Education University based in UP has to travel all through to UP to give examination, then what is the benefit of open and distance learning?

I can understand that a Distance Education University should not have franchise centres outside the state, that is alright, but why ban examination centres, what is the justification, what are we going to achieve ?

Are we trying to restrict the choice available to a student, because a distance learning student would generally not like to travel distances only for examination purposes. Are we trying to create monopoly or geographical restriction in education sector ?

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read the Notification:

UGC Notice on Examination Centre for Distance Education Institutes

 

 

UGC to consider Ph.D period as teaching experience

UGC realizing the scarcity of qualified faculty and with objective to encourage research students has now notified on 01.03.2016 Ph.D research period should be considered as experience for recruitment and promotion in the higher educational institutions. UGC has taken this decision in it’s 512th meeting held recently.

The UGC circular published on its website as Clarification on counting of the period of active service spent on pursuing Ph.D.”, which reads that the period of active service spent on pursuing Research Degree i.e. for acquiring Ph.D degree simultaneously, without taking any kind of leave, may be counted as teaching experience for the purpose of direct recruitment/ promotion to the post of Associate Professor and above.

EduLegaL View

It is clear from usage of expression “simultaneously” that this is applicable only to whom those who are already in service and pursuing Ph.D. simultaneously as a part time course and in that sense, it fails to meet the vision that it desired to.

However, the condition of “without taking any leave” is really harsh as it is unimaginable that a person will not take leave during 2-3 year of coursework. This harsh condition leaves this resolution only as an eyewash.

In any case, an employed faculty pursuing Ph.D., simultaneously will have his employment counted even otherwise as “experience”, then what is the benefit of this Notification?

Sometimes, the clarification creates more doubts than clarity !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Deemed Universities must share information with State Government: MHRD

With a view to address the issue of difficulty faced by students of Deemed Universities regarding authentication of educational certificates by the State Government for the purpose of Higher Education or employment abroad, MHRD has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to communicate to all the Deemed Universities and direct them to provide details about their recognition status and other information to state governments to enable them authenticate degrees of students going abroad.

The necessity for the direction arose on a background that Rajasthan government, in absence of information regarding the Deemed University, as obviously such Universities does not come under its jurisdiction, refused to authenticate the degrees of students granted by deemed universities operating in the state, complaining that they were not cooperating and sharing information required for process. Government of Rajasthan accordingly expressed its inability to MHRD vide a letter and requested MHRD to ask UGC to take up the responsibility of authentication and issue necessary instructions to UGC.

Procedurally, a student, going abroad either for the purpose of employment or higher education, has to get his educational certificates authenticated. The state governments authenticate their certificates after verifying the details about the universities. However, in Rajasthan it was becoming a difficulty and therefore the Government finally decided to stop authenticating degrees issued by them.

MHRD, taking strong cognizance of the issue and the Complaint from the Rajasthan Government has asked the UGC secretary to extend all support to the state government in this regard. The commission has also been asked to issue a directive to all deemed universities to ensure that state governments do not face such difficulty and students do not suffer.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

From old NAAC to new NIRF – Warning to avoid fraudsters continues

Earlier, it was NAAC which had issued warning / caution notice cautioning the Institutions, from getting trapped by unauthorized agencies, which claim to impart tricks for getting A grade, preparing SSRs and also making up deficiencies.

The newly launched National Institutional Ranking Framework [NIRF] it seems has also met the same fate. MHRD within few weeks of its launch has issued a strong caution notice to the Institution to avoid tricksters.

NIRF

 

MHRD in its release has mentioned that it has received information that some private companies have started conducting training programmes and workshops on NIRF charging exorbitant amount as registration fee.

MHRD has clarified that NIRF has no association with any of these private companies. It has also informed the stake holders that NIRF portal hosts detailed documentation consisting of NIRF reports on various categories of institutions, help manuals, FAQ, etc. that would help institutions and organisations to understand methodologies for providing data required for ranking of universities.