UGC approves new regulations on online courses in higher education

Higher educational institutions can now offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode in line with their regular programs, with the University Grants Commission approving the UGC (Online Courses) Regulations, 2018.

The new regulations, approved by the UGC at its meeting on 24 May 2018, however, restricts the award of such certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode to only those disciplines in which the institution has already been offering the same or similar programmes /courses at graduation level in regular mode (of classroom teaching) or in open and distance learning mode and from which at least one batch has been graduated and approved by the statutory councils, as applicable. 
Online programmes requiring practical/ laboratory courses as a curricular requirement shall not be permitted. Examinations should be conducted in proctored mode and in conformity with any norms for such examinations stipulated by the commission. 
The online learning shall have minimum four quadrants - video lectures, e- content, self-assessment and discussion forum - to clarify doubts.
To be eligible to offer online programmes, higher educational institutions should have been in existence for at least five years and are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale; and should be in the top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years in the previous three years.
However, NAAC and NIRF conditions shall not be applicable to existing government open universities till NAAC or similar accreditation system or NIRF are made available.
Aadhaar and passport may be used to authenticate the Indian and foreign students respectively for all online interactions, including teaching-learning and examinations.
The learners’ engagement will be monitored via participation in asynchronous / synchronous discussions, assignment activity and programme involvement. The analytics of learning management system may be used for ensuring the learner’s participation at least for 2 hours every fortnight.
Overall regulations provide enabling provisions for maintaining sanctity of admissions, teaching-learning, examination, authenticity of the learner and mandatory disclosure of programme-wise information such as duration, start and end dates, fee, number of students, name of students with identifier, results, on HEI website/public domain.
These regulations will be made applicable from the academic session 2018-19. This initiative is a big step towards attaining the targeted GER of 30 per cent by the year 2020.