Until now and after transfer of power from erstwhile, Distance Education Council to UGC, it was Distance Education Bureau, a Department of UGC, which was responsible for according approval to Institutions engaged in the field of Open and Distance Learning for conducting Diploma and Certificate Courses.
However, no UGC has announced that Central Universities, IGNOU and State Open Universities like YCMOU, Nashik and other State Open Universities, and who have been recognised by UGC for conducting courses in Open and Distance Learning Mode, can now without seeking prior approval of UGC, offer short term Diploma and Certificate Courses of less than 1 year. However, this autonomy comes with the restriction that these courses should not be related to technical, medical, or para-medical fields or should not have any hands-on training as component.
IGNOU and other State Open Universities, who are approved by UGC can now with prior approval of their Statutory Bodies like Board of Studies, Academic Council, etc, can without seeking approval of UGC can start course for the academic year 2017-2018. However, the Institution is expected to inform UGC about the decision to commence such Diploma and Certificate Course.
Why this continued discrimination against Private Players? UGC has granted this autonomy only to Central and State Open Universities, excluding Private Stand Alone Institution this is absolutely unfair and unjust. A Government should always endeavour to provide level playing field when it comes to competition and also contribution to the nation.
UGC instead of issuing these policies in piecemeal manner, should now issue a comprehensive regulation to govern open and distance learning system. It is shocking that there are no regulations governing, open and distance education.
The Draft of the National Education Policy also recommended setting up of an autonomous body, for the regulation and maintenance of standards in the ODL/Massive Online and Open Courses system. A Parliamentary Standing Committee also directed the HRD ministry earlier this year to speed up the process of appointing a distance education regulator.
UGC should grant the same operational and academic autonomy to private players, else it is again going to lead to confusion, chaos and litigation.
Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas !
Ravi Bhardwaj | firstname.lastname@example.org