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Higher education institutions to award degrees for online courses

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New Delhi: Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) can now offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode, along with, as has been the norm, those offered in the regular mode, sunject to certain conditions, the government announced on Thursday.

These regulations will be made applicable from the academic session 2018-19.

The rule came into being after approval of UGC (Online Courses) Regulations, 2018, by the University Grants Commission.

According to a Human Resource Development Ministry statement, these institutions can accredit students in online mode in only those disciplines in which it has already been offering the same or similar programmes/courses at graduation level in regular mode (of classroom teaching) or in Open and Distance Learning modes and from which at least one batch has graduated and approved by the statutory councils, as applicable.

Online programmes requiring practical/laboratory courses as curricular requirement shall not be permitted, it said.

The statement said only those institutions will be allowed to offer online programmes which have been in existence for at least five years and are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale.

They should also be in the top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years in the previous three years.

The government open universities are exempted from these conditions unless they are required to be rated by the NAAC or NIRF or a similar accreditation system.

This initiative is a big step towards attaining the targeted Gross Enrolment Ratio of 30 per cent by 2020, the Ministry said.