UGC invites application from institutions to allow online education from 2019-20 session; check all details here


The University Grants Commission has been inviting application from higher educational institutions to grant them the authority to impart education via online mode from the next academic session 2019-20. From 2017, the government allowed the universities to offer 20% of their courses via online mode through the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) under the scheme SWAYAM.

“Even though many private universities offer online courses, very few students opt for them as they are not recognized by the UGC. This is set to change now.” a statement said.

The decisions were taken with the aim of attaining Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of 30% in higher education by 2020; currently, it is 25.2%.

“Meeting the 30% GER target isn’t a possibility through building more brick and mortar institutions. However, making intelligent use of technology can surely help India reach that level,” says Dr. VS Rao, President, NIIT University.

“In January 2018, the government mandated that 15% of Indian universities must deliver online degree courses. Available data also suggests that India is one of the fastest-growing online education markets, pegged to touch USD 1.96 billion by 2021.” statement added.


  • The Act was passed last year, allowing higher education institutions conducting online courses, as advised by the University Grants Commission.
  • The courses offered in regular mode, open mode, distance learning mode by the university were also allowed to be conducted via online mode at least for the first batch to be graduated.
  • The degrees, diplomas or certificates offered by the UGC-recognised Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions shall be considered as corresponding degrees of institutions.
  • The Institutions who will be allowed to conduct online courses shall be at least five years old and should be awarded more than 3.26 NAAC Accreditation.
  • “Overall Regulations provide enabling provisions for maintaining sanctity of admissions, teaching-learning, examination, authenticity of the learner and mandatory disclosure of Programme-wise information such as duration, start & end dates, fee, number of students, name of students with identifier, results, on HEI website/public domain,” the statement said.
  • The Programmes that will need practical/ laboratory requirements will not be permitted for online courses, which leads to engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture and physiotherapy programmes cannot be carried out via online mode.
  • The Exams for these courses would be conducted in proctored mode and would follow UGC norms.
  • The curriculum for these courses will be limited only through video lectures, e-content, self-assessment, and a discussion forum to clarify doubts.
  • The Programme will be headed under SWAYAM portal for offering online courses


  • Online Courses or Digital Learning will improve the Education Quality Content

“I don’t think digital learning will compromise on content or instructions; in fact, it will only improve it. These universities are NAAC A+ rated so they will ensure high quality of content and instructions; that’s the main purpose of giving the online course scope only to A+ institutions,” says Aditya Malik, CEO, and MD of Talentedge.

“The quality will further improve because the universities will be conscious that they are teaching an online audience and they will ensure that the pedagogy used is right. Also, globally this is a model which works really well,” Malik adds.

Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning, speaks along the same lines.

“It would be incorrect to say that quality might be compromised in online degree courses. There is a dearth of quality mentors in India but effective use of technology enables edtech companies to give discerning learners in even Tier II and Tier III cities access to such quality education,” he says.

“In fact, many reputed institutions in India and the world over are using online courses as a way of imparting quality education through quality faculty and bridging the knowledge gap at a much faster rate than the brick and mortar institutions,” Kadampully adds.

  • Using the Online Mode of Education, it becomes possible to scale up High-Quality Education at Low Marginal Cost

Raising Questions about lack of staff for conducting regular courses, how will the universities be able to conduct online will extra faculty, the replies include:

“Indeed there is some amount of investment in terms of resources, but with the cloud-based technologies being adopted these days, there is no significant infrastructure investment required and the staff can also be trained very easily. So it doesn’t require large studio rooms etc. With cloud being prevalent, things can happen in a cost-effective format and training can also happen much more easily,” says Aditya Malik, CEO, and MD of Talentedge.

“Most universities in India are resource constrained in terms of faculty, study materials or in the range of specializations that they can provide. On using the online model, it becomes possible to scale up high-quality education at a low marginal cost. That makes high-quality education both accessible and affordable to students,” Professor PD Jose Chair – Digital Learning Initiatives, IIM Bangalore says.

“Introduction of online courses does not mean a substantial increase in manpower and resources. Since this change involves the teachers and staff understanding technology — as followed in technology-related industries and also globally in case of online education — universities can take the services of edtech companies who support universities in providing the platform, content as well as delivery,” says Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning.

“The NAAC assessment criteria had been put in place to solve issues such as content and reach. This ensures that these universities are in a position to put into place the necessary infrastructure or investment required or tie up with suitable edtech partners to carry out online courses,” he adds.

  • Various measures are taken to prevent cheating in the process of conducting examinations via online mode

“Proctored exams can be of two types – one is obviously proctoring by the invigilator, and the other is using technologies that help with facial recognition, eye retina scans etc. With the help of these, one can monitor students, allow them to work on systems where they cannot even toggle; if they do, the screens get logged out,” says Aditya Malik, CEO, and MD of Talentedge.

“The breakthroughs in technology have become so advanced that if you even try to cheat, you will be caught much more easily and quickly than by an invigilator in a physical classroom. Hence, the exam quality can still be maintained by using technology which globally many educational institutions are using,” he adds.

“In most remote proctoring cases, the person takes their entire exam on a computer and the proctor watches them from another computer through an online video camera or CCTV, thereby preventing cases of cheating,” says Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning.

“Advanced systems have automatic online proctoring captured via iris movement and some other data capturing techniques and they are equal to if not better than normal physical proctoring,” he adds.

“In most remote proctoring cases, the person takes their entire exam on a computer and the proctor watches them from another computer through an online video camera or CCTV, thereby preventing cases of cheating,” says Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning.

“Advanced systems have automatic online proctoring captured via iris movement and some other data capturing techniques and they are equal to if not better than normal physical proctoring,” he adds.

  • The Subjective and Objective Tests can be expected via online mode

“I would like to disagree here. Technology has made conducting both subjective and objective tests possible. Objective questions can be rated and evaluated through systems, whereas for subjective questions, they get cued on to respective faculty, who can further evaluate and rate them online,” says Aditya Malik, CEO, and MD of Talentedge.

“Subjective essay type questions can also be conducted in online assessments. Advanced systems can also check them online,” agreesKarthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning.


  • Credits earned on SWAYAM-based MOOCs are transferable across universities.

“The most important step taken by UGC is making credits earned on Swayam based MOOCs are now transferable across universities. This is truly an innovative step that can change the face of education,” says Prof. PD Jose, Chair – Digital Learning Initiatives, IIM Bangalore.

  • Better skilling opportunities

“Traditionally higher education in India has been seen a passport to a good job. But the scenario is changing now. Given the rapid changes in technology and the needs for reskilling, there is a need to adopt a more flexible and dynamic approach to learning. MOOCs provide this opportunity,” says Prof Jose.

“Going forward reskilling and upskilling is required almost on a daily basis by working professionals and it is practically impossible to get all working professionals back to school. Online delivery of courses will help working professionals meet their learning demands and allow them to remain relevant in the fast-evolving employment scenarios,” says Dr. VS Rao, President, NIIT University.

  • Future universities might have a very different structure

“The flip side of this UGC decision is that universities, as we know, may cease to have the kind of influence they enjoy today. Instead, the best universities of the future may be collaborative efforts between academics, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and investors,” says Prof Jose.

“This means that the metrics for measuring the impact and performance of higher education institutions will change. Hopefully for the better!” he adds.

  •  Could make education more accessible for remote areas

“The UGC decision will ensure that quality education reaches and is accessible to the remotest parts of the country. So it is a huge inclusion story for UGC and an opportunity to make sure that quality higher education is available to all,” says Aditya Malik, CEO, and MD of Talentedge.

  • Could bring better industry-academic collaboration

“The recent move by UGC will surely increase collaboration between colleges, universities and edtech players. It will add the much-required momentum by creating more opportunities for deeper industry-academia partnership. This will thereby, open bigger avenues for online education players and enable them to contribute significantly to the growth and evolution of India’s education market,” says Karthik Kadampully, co-founder and CEO of AEON Learning.

“This particular move by UGC will create paths for closer academic and industry collaboration. Universities can work towards delivering courses as specified and demanded by the industry and online education can, therefore, be put to its optimal use,” says Dr. VS Rao, President, NIIT University.


  1. Really in all UGC 20% marks are spending for writing assignment like school homework. I Recommend that 20 % of marks allow the student to learn anything according to that subject online and finally he has submitted some small kind of practical experiment. These changes will improve student skill levels and he never depends on others and he may get ideas to develop new things.


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