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Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Govt to allow colleges, varsities to offer 40% of coursework online

  • This 40% coursework delivery online will be different from the fully online courses that top 100 universities will be allowed to offer from the coming academic session.
  • This increase in online content from 20% to 40% will help the blended mode of education, UGC chairman says

NEW DELHI : Indian colleges and universities will be allowed to offer up to 40% of their coursework online, double the amount permitted now, as authorities attempt to reduce academic loss because of the prolonged impact of coronavirus on campus education.

Apex higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) has already established a task force to implement the change and recently told a gathering of directors, principals, and vice-chancellors of higher educational institutions about its plan. Mint has seen the video of the discussion between the UGC chairman and the education providers.

“We are revisiting rules to allow 40% of courses from the present 20% through online (mode).This 20% to 40% online content will help the blended mode of education, which is perhaps the need of the hour," UGC chairman D.P. Singh told the colleges and universities.

India’s higher education sector, which comprises more than 50,000 colleges and universities, is closed since the third week of March to curb the spread of covid-19. Though the Union home ministry was of the opinion that the institutions may open after July, following consultations with states and stakeholders, the growing number of positive cases has created doubt about its viability. For example, IIT Kharagpur has asked its resident students to go home by 20 June.

A government official who declined to be named said that though it was expected that the new academic year will begin in August, it seems unlikely that the academic calendar can go as planned and it can be normal like last year for the first three to six months.

“The disruptions have already taken away three months of the teaching-learning calendar and unless a blended learning model is facilitated, more damage will be done to the higher education sector. Earlier we had allowed 20%, but there is a growing realization that allowing up to 40% of course delivery online will save time and engage students and teachers in meaningful work in the current circumstance," the official said. An expert committee is working on the details, which will be notified soon, the official said.

The development comes amid a government push for online education and with the Union government working to develop a single repository of e-resources for all educational institutions. This 40% coursework delivery online will be different from the fully online courses that the top 100 universities will be allowed to offer from the coming academic session, as announced recently by the finance minister as part of a covid-19 stimulus package for different sectors. “This is to ensure that the conventional colleges and universities do not stay behind," said the government official mentioned above.

Singh told the universities and colleges that they need to improve their digital infrastructure and minimize the academic loss of students, as well as ensure that teachers adopt technology to make the process smoother.

“In the current circumstance, blended learning is the way forward. A a sizable portion of the course delivery happening online followed by a face-to-face learning environment seems to be a need. However, institutions will have to invest in digital infrastructure, which is also an expensive affair," said Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of Birla Institute of Management Technology and alternate president of Education Promotion Society of India.

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