Admission for distance education in limbo

Gayathri | Tuesday, October 18, 2016 11:14 AM IST

Admission for distance education in limbo

The absence of rules governing distance education has brought the admission into these courses to a standstill. Distance education, that produces nearly 22% of graduates every year, is an important source of revenue for universities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has imposed self-framed rules on universities to run distance education courses this year. This has forced most universities to put on hold the admissions for the current academic year 2016-17.

Some of the rules that the UGC has imposed on universities is not to admit students outside the state they are located in, online assessment and distance education only in courses that are offered in the regular format.

Most universities are against these self-imposed rules, as there is no regulation governing distance education. However, there is a distance education council (DEC), which until 2013, was under the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In 2013, DEC was carved out of the IGNOU statutes, and was brought under the UGC.

'It was then decided by the UGC that the rules under the DEC will be followed until it forms a set of regulations. But, suddenly this year, the UGC overlooked the DEC rules and started framing its own regulations,' a senior academician of a private deemed university said.

Like every year, universities were asked to submit data relevant for obtaining permission to run courses in the distance education format. 'We were invited to participate in a meeting in Delhi where we were asked to make a presentation and a few days later, we received a letter citing territorial jurisdictions and distance education courses not being offered in regular formats as reasons,' the academic said,

The vice-chancellor of a state-run university said, 'Choice of pursuing a course in regular or distance education is a student's right. And, students should be given the freedom of choosing the institution as these things are decided based on merits of an institution.' 'So, if a student from outside Tamil Nadu wishes to pursue a course through distance education from our university, then what is the harm?,' he added.

At the same time, universities also argued that while on one hand the Central Government is promoting online courses, on the other, the UGC is apprehensive about state jurisdictions.