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UGC orders a stay over Punjabi University Distance Education courses

September 09, 2018 11:14 AM

The tussle between UGC and Distance Education Institutes has surpassed the boundaries of Punjabi University. The higher-education body has recently ordered a stay over distance MBA and other courses offered by Punjabi University. Some of these courses have been published in the university brochure for current academic year."

But the university officials are positive about getting the courses approved before the session starts. As per a source, one of the reasons for the UGC action is the inadequate number of teachers. Some of the courses on hold are MA in Journalism and Mass Communication, MA in Sociology, Bachelor in Education and Distance MBA.

Recently, UGC has taken stringent action against other distance education institutes. The prestigious Mumbai University’s IDOL is one of them. It offers 34 courses through its distance branch. All of which have been de-recognized. De-recognition of the courses offered by the Mumbai University has led to perplexed fate of over 80,000 enrolled students. Though, the university representatives have stated that the process of re-recognition has been initiated.

Another example is Bharathiar University, which has signed MOUs with 3 support centers outside the university jurisdiction. These are located in Tanjore, Chennai and Madurai. UGC considers that these are in violation of its bi-laws which specify that institutes/universities cannot set up support centers outside its jurisdiction. Though, BU has challenged this in High Court and is expecting a favorable order.

Below are some of common guidelines by UGC for institutes offering distance course-

  1. It is mandatory for every institute to have to have NAAC score (3.26 and above on 4 scale grade)
  2. No support/learning/study centre outside its jurisdiction
  3. All the courses have to be UGC approved; irrespective of the type
  4. The institute should be in existence for 5 years or more

As per latest AISHE survey, in India, over 30 lakhs students are enrolled in distance education courses offered by 30 institutes. Today, correspondence education is a preferred choice for students and working professionals. These courses offer flexibility and help students acquire new skills and are less taxing financially.

This has caused many universities to join the bandwagon. Rise of mobile and broadband connections, has further made it easy to offer some of these courses in online format. Some universities might have compromised on quality of course content and teachers in order to limit costs. This prompted UGC to intervene into the matter.

A few days back SC challenged the validity of technical degrees like engineering and diploma offered through distance mode. Those who had taken such courses were required to take a qualifying test to retain the degree.

UGC action is partly valid, since it will ensure quality of distance education in the country. But this sudden action in the middle of the academic year has left many existing students lurching in dark.

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