• The Indian Government is warming up to the idea of online courses.
  • The HRD ministry has directed 15% universities to offer online degrees.
  • This will be non-technical courses which excludes engineering and medical from the list.

The directive from the ministry 

The HRD ministry is going to allow 15% of universities to offer online degrees allowing students and executives to learn anywhere, anytime.

The courses, however, will be non-technical in nature, implying that they exclude degrees in engineering and medicine, human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar explained.

While some people believe that this will compromise on the quality of education others differ. This move will improve India’s low gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education and address the problem of access to colleges, faced in several parts of India.

“In a month or so, the rules will be finalized. The University Grants Commission is working on it,” said higher education secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma.

Only NAAC accredited and A+ rated universities will be allowed to offer such courses. Others have to achieve the A+ rating in 2 years of time if they want to impart such a degree

“We are creating an enabling environment where not just students but working executives can study and earn a degree without traveling the distance,” Javadekar said, adding that adoption of technology in India is huge and this can be leveraged to boost higher education.

The road ahead

However, the policy will face three key challenges:

  • Students may think of it as a distance education platform.
  • The worldwide success of online courses is not that great.
  • Evaluating students will become challenging.
  • Presence of enough staffs to handle the exodus of students.

This will be different from the regular correspondence course as it will allow students from outside the state—in case a state university is offering such courses—to sign up. At present, a state university cannot offer correspondence courses through distance mode to students residing outside the state boundary.

Ministry officials said since only a fraction of the universities with good ranks will be allowed to offer such courses, quality can be handled better.

Asked why the country is pushing more people to pursue higher education instead of a skills-based education, the HRD minister said the government is working on the jobs front and better news will follow.

So, with this step, the government is looking to boost the higher education by driving up student enrolment numbers and offering them a medium to acquire new skills.

Source: Livemint