UGC's Revised Revised Regulations for ODL Lands Kerala Government in a Fix
UGC has revised the criteria for universities to be eligible to offer such courses in its latest Regulations on ODL programmes. Read the full story here.
"No university in the state fulfils the UGC's criteria for offering Open and Distance Learning ( ODL) programmes."
This was the main argument put forward by the LDF Government to justify the creation of the Open University. The government had even planned to enrol students in the varsity yet to be established in the current academic year itself.
But recent developments may lead the government to rethink.
The UGC has revised the criteria for universities to be eligible to offer such courses in its latest Regulations on ODL programmes.
As a result of the COVID pandemic, the UGC has now allowed universities to offer ODL programmes if they have a minimum NAAC score of 3.01 or are ranked among the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
This means that the Kerala University and Calicut University, with NAAC scores of 3.03 and 3.13, are now eligible to offer ODL courses this academic year.
These two variations are also among the top 100 universities in the country, and each year they get close to one lakh fresh ODL admission.
However, Kannur University, which offered ODL courses to around 12,000 students, would be ineligible to offer ODL courses that do not meet the eligibility criteria.
MG University, which does not offer ODL courses, remains unaffected by the revised UGC rules.
Recent developments have put the state government at a standstill as it planned to bar state universities from offering ODL courses in order to shift all new admissions this year to the proposed Open University.
Apart from one lakh ODL student, the proposed Open University is also set to attract some 40,000 private students from Kerala University and MG University.
"The state government must decide as soon as possible whether or not universities will be allowed to offer distance learning programmes this year. The UGC 's extended deadline for ODL admissions is 30 September and universities must complete the admissions process within that timeframe," said a senior official at the University of Kerala.
Meanwhile, this year, a section of students is worried about their academic prospects.
"What if the government forcefully shuts down distance learning courses in universities but is unable to fully operate the Open University? Our full academic year will be balanced," said Arun SG, who is planning to enrol in the BCom course through distance learning this year.
Academics have advised the gradual transfer of courses from the state varsity to the Open University, taking into account the future of close to 1,5 lakh students who enrol each year in distance and private university registration programmes.