UGC (Online education) Regulations’17: Aadhaar must for e-courses

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A draft of University Grants Commission (UGC) rules suggests that Aadhaar may be made mandatory for pursuing all online courses and only those universities which have been in existence for at least five years allowed to offer such courses. As per the draft of UGC (Online education) Regulations, 2017, there will be continuous assessment even in e-courses. The draft is open to all feedback and comments on the draft till the 18th of August.

Online courses will be functioning according to the UGC’s guidelines on choice-based credit system scheme for conventional colleges/ universities, as per the draft regulations.

To ensure ‘quality’ and ‘accountability’ in the courses offered, institutions responsible will have to undergo third party audit every two years. The institution should have been in existence as a university for at least five years and should be accredited to the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.25 on 4 point scale to crack the eligibility criteria so as to get recognition as institutions offering online courses.

To add more, courses which are on offer through regular classroom teaching mode will be the only ones available to be offered as online courses. A teaching assistant can be added with already functioning full-time director, registrar, assistant registrar and other academic staff in case the number of learners in a course crosses the 500 mark.

The evaluation and assessment process will require the HEIs to have a robust computer-based testing system for ‘proctored online examinations’ with features like integration with Aadhaar for learner authentication, screen and webcam recording for live invigilation so as to make the process technology-intensive, supporting content development using graphics, animation and webinars to e-learning modules and live virtual classroom sessions.

Moreover, the draft is offering three additional years to the students to complete the programme from the actual duration the formal mode of education, implying that for a three-year degree course, a student will be allowed six years.

Those institutions which wish to offer online programmes have a two-level maze to get to approval, first being audit assessment for the academic/technical/ infrastructural/HR compliance. The offered courses along with target groups and delivery mechanism, curricular aspects and effectiveness of assessment criteria will be examined by an expert committee.

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