The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated a new round of applications for recognition, targeting the academic year 2023-24, with classes set to commence in February 2024 in a bid to promote online, open, and distance learning programs in higher education institutions (HEIs).
In an official notification released last Friday, the UGC announced that the online application portal would be open for submissions starting from October 10 and concluding on October 31. For those who prefer offline submissions, the deadline is extended until November 15.
The UGC emphasized that HEIs should be aware that the mere submission of an application does not automatically grant approval. All applications will be subject to a rigorous scrutiny process in alignment with the standards outlined in the UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programs and Online Programs) Regulations of 2020, including its subsequent amendments, as stated in the notification.
In September of the previous year, the UGC made some important amendments to the norms governing online and open learning. These amendments allow autonomous colleges in India to offer online and distance education programs starting from the academic session of 2022-23 without the necessity of obtaining prior approval. These amended norms grant them the flexibility to collaborate with educational technology firms to develop course content and evaluation systems. However, it’s crucial to note that certain categories of HEIs are still obliged to seek permission from the higher education regulator.
The notification further clarified that eligible HEIs, already recognized by the UGC for offering Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and/or Online Programs for the academic year 2023-24, have the opportunity to apply for recognition of additional programs if they desire to do so.
This move by the UGC aims to expand the accessibility and availability of online education options, ensuring that students have a wider range of choices when it comes to pursuing higher education in India.