In a move that will significantly improve access to higher education, over 200 universities can soon offer online degree courses as the University Grants Commission is changing the criteria for their eligibility.
The UGC, according to a source, is finalising a proposal whereby “a university which fulfils one of the two criteria – Naac 3.01 and above CGPA (Grade A) or among the top 100 NIRF rankings will be allowed to offer online degrees. This will expand the eligibility base to over 230 universities, significantly higher than the previous plan of 100 universities”.
The move came following the human resource development ministry asking the UGC to review the rules.
The government had earlier announced that institutions fulfilling both the criteria of featuring among the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking Framework ranking and having National Assessment and Accreditation Council 3.26 CGPA (Grade A+) grade will be allowed to offer programmes online.
As per the MHRD’s earlier announcement, only 67 universities became eligible. “Under present rules, many good universities will be missing out on the opportunity as they have to fulfil both the criteria. So the ministry asked the UGC to have a review so that more institutions can offer online degrees but without diluting the quality,” said a senior HRD ministry official.
The move is seen as a major step in not only enhancing the gross enrolment in higher education, but also improving the quality of the institutions. had reported earlier in May 2020 that 600 universities are unaccredited.
Naac director S C Sharma said: “Equity and accessibility is important and gross enrolment has to go up significantly. But quality has to be ensured and allowing institutions of 3.01 CGPA and above to offer online degrees will ensure that. Moreover, universities which aspire to offer online deg-rees now will enhance their student-faculty ratio, improve their infrastructure so that they get at least Naac A grade or among the top 100 NIRF institutions which will translate into quality improvement as well.”
The HRD ministry is likely to announce the new norms once the UGC finalises the criteria.
According to ministry sources, around 100 universities are likely to be ready to roll out online degree programmes from the forthcoming academic session.