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

Vocation degree (B. Voc) now at par with other Bachelor degree: UGC

UGC2In a step to further strengthen its commitment towards facilitating mobility between vocational and general education and developing a consistent and standardised framework for recognition of vocational degrees, the UGC recently released a notification allowing recognition of the B. Voc degree for competitive exams such as UPSC and Staff Selection Commission as well as for admission into trans-disciplinary programmes. The move intends to bring the B. Voc degree at par with other Bachelor level degrees.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched a scheme on skill development based higher education as part of college/university education, leading to Bachelor of Vocation (B.Voc.) Degree with multiple exit options such as Diploma/Advanced Diploma under the NSQF.  To this end, the B.Voc degree was specified by UGC under section 22(3) of UGC Act, 1956 and notified in official Gazette of India dated 19th January, 2013.

The notification mentions that B. Voc should be recognised “for competitive exams conducted by Union/State Public Service Commission, Staff Selection Commission or other such bodies where the eligibility criteria is “Bachelor Degree in any discipline.” It further states that “students with B.Voc. degree should be considered eligible for the transdisciplinary vertical mobility into such courses where entry qualification is a Bachelor Degree without specific requirement in a particular discipline.”

Edulegal View

edulegal imageThis is a welcome move by the UGC that will further open up various avenues and pathways to increase employability of candidates outside of conventional education, which, in turn, will contribute toward productivity at a national level to boost India’s competitive edge at a time when there is still a shortage of skilled manpower to address the increasing needs and demands of the economy.

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 Notifies New Deemed University Regulations, replaces 2010 Regulations

ugcUGC, with a view to regulate the process of declaration of institutions as deemed to be universities and to prevent institutions of dubious quality from being so declared so that quality of higher education imparted by Deemed Universities is maintained and is consistent with the ideals of the concept of a university, has notified the New Regulations, replacing the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 and its subsequent amendments.

UGC has invoked powers conferred on it by Section 26[1] [f] and [g] to frame and notify the New Regulations. The Regulations shall apply to apply to every institution seeking declaration as an institution deemed to be university under the Act as also, albeit prospectively, to an institution which has been declared as an institution deemed to be university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956.

A Copy of the New Regulations : UGC [Institutions Deemed to be University] Regulations, 2016

 

 

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

In light of recent unfortunate incidents and for some time now, UGC was contemplating to make any acts which demeans a person on basis of his race, sex or caste an act of ragging and finally it has amended the Ragging Regulations to comprehensively include all kinds of offences relating to race, caste, creed or sex of a person.

UGC2UGC, by Gazette dated 29.06.2016, has amended Clause 3 of UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009, which defines “Ragging” and has added the following clause:

3(j). Any act of physical or mental abuse (including bullying and exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of colour, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (including transgender), sexual orientation, appearance, nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place   of residence or economic background.

Taking cognizance of this heinous crime, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “University of Kerala v/s. Council, Principals, Colleges and others” had constituted a Committee to address the issues of ragging and also frame regulations to arrest the menace of Ragging. UCG in the year 2009, with the objective to prohibit, prevent and eliminate the scourge of ragging had notified UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009.

The Regulations, broadly define “Ragging” as any conduct which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or any other student which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame, or torment or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of such fresher or any other student, with or without an intent to derive a sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or superiority by a student over any fresher or any other student. This includes disrupting studies, financial extortion, sexual abuse etc.

A student who is found guilty of ‘Ragging’ may be suspended from attending classes and academic privileges. The Regulations also provides that the Institute can also withhold scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits or debarring them from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation process and withholding results. In extreme cases, it may also result in cancellation of admission or rustication from Institution.

The Regulations recognizes that the Institution has vital role to play in curbing the menace of Ragging and hence it has warned the Institution that it fails to take action in case of Ragging then the Commission may withdraw any allocated grants and declare that the erring Institution is ineligible for consideration for any assistance and it does not possess the minimum academic standards. In extreme cases, it may also lead to withdrawal of affiliation / recognition.

UGC has also launched a dedicated website for this purpose: www.antiragging.in. According to the statistics available on the website, since the year 2009, a total of 3343 complaints have been lodged till date.

Out of this total complaint, 192 Complaints have been lodged from State of Maharashtra. Further studying it Gender Wise, it is seen that out of 192 Complaints made in Maharashtra, 159 Complaint has been made by Male Students and 33 Complaints have been made by Female Students.

The Highest Complaints have been lodged from State of Uttar Pradesh [692] followed by West Bengal [432] and Madhya Pradesh [372].

The Initiative by UGC has resulted in closure of 1991 Complaints, while 17 are active In Call Centre, 19 Complaints are being actively considered by Monitoring Agency, 45 Complaints are pending with UGC and 22 Complaints are pending with other Regulatory Authorities.

EduLegaL View:

Ragging is worst possible heinous crime, which affects the youth and has to be tackled at all levels. Government has made laws and regulations to address the situation and problem has been arrested to a substantial extent.

The amendment in the Regulations to protect a person from any conduct of physical or mental abuse relating to caste, race, sex of a person is also found in Article 15 and 16 of Constitution of India and the amendment further propogates the mandate of the Constitution.

Good One !

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

Distance Education Certifications now valid for Government Employment

In a big departure from its earlier stand, the Centre has notified in July 25 Notification that degrees, diplomas and certificates granted by universities through open and distance-learning mode of education for programmes including technical education would now be considered valid for Government Employment.

Earlier, all the concerned regulators MHRD, UGC and AICTE had barred universities and other higher-educational institutions from offering diploma, bachelors and postgraduate courses in engineering and technology other than MBA and MCA through distance-learning. In fact some State / State Open Universities were seriously reprimanded by UGC / DEB for imparting technical education through Distance Education Mode.

However, Madhav Menon Committee had advocated that recognition of technical education qualification from distance education mode is consistent with National Policy of Education and should be allowed by using Study Learning Material for theory component, face-to-face / e-learning for interaction and compulsory practical component for development of requisite skill. Regular face-to-face counselling sessions during weekends should be used for clarification and removal of doubts. Laboratory experiments could be conducted in AICTE recognized colleges taking into account the physical infrastructure and human resource required for the purpose.

Higher Education in our country has experienced substantial growth however has failed to scale upto the required strengths more so because it is highly dependent on conventional education, which is highly capital-intensive. The need of the hour is to develop an alternative mode of education to supplement the conventional education system, through policy initiatives to facilitate the expansion of higher education sector for the fulfillment of aspirations of those who are deprived of pursuing it for whatever reason and recognising the qualifications earned through distance education for employability is certainly one of such policy initiatives.

The Notification reads as under:

“The central government hereby notifies that all the degrees/diplomas/certificates including technical education degrees and diplomas awarded through open and distance learning mode of education by the universities established by an Act of Parliament or state legislature, institutions deemed to be universities under section 3 of the UGC Act 1956 and Institution of National Importance declared under an Act of Parliament stand automatically recognised for the purpose of employment to posts and services under the central government provided they have been approved by the UGC”

The proposed Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 also makes provisions for technical education within the scope of Distance Education and the proposed Council has representations from AICTE and other technical / professional regulators.

Notification – Recognition of ODL mode degrees for the purpose of employment under Central Government

EduLegal View:

This is a big step towards encouragement of distance education in the country and so also to alleviate doubts relating to the recognition of distance education qualification. It is also consistent with National Policy of Education, as present rigid entry requirements to formal courses restricting the access of a large segment of people to technical and managerial education is restricting the GER and therefore programmes through open and distance- learning processes, including use of the mass media should be encouraged and one of the means of encouragement is to recognise the qualifications earned through distance education mode.

HRD Ministry issues notification for minorities’ sub-quota in Central Educational Institutions

The HRD Ministry has issued a gazette notification for implementation of sub-quota for minorities within the 27% reservation for OBCs in all central educational institutions.

According to HRD Ministry officials, the 4.5% reservation would result in roughly 120 seats earmarked for minorities in the IITs while in the IIMs with a total intake of nearly 3500 students, 42 seats would go to students from minority communities.

The decision would cover admissions in technical institutions such as the IITs, IIMs, NITs and over 40 Central universities and educational institutions like National Institute of Design.

The Union Cabinet had on December 22 approved a sub-quota of 4.5% for minorities within the 27% reservation for OBCs, paving the way for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for minorities.

The decision will come into effect from January 1, 2012.