New Delhi: The central government is set to roll out a slew of initiatives for students in the field of online education, and will also put out regulations for the same in the next one month, newly appointed University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar told ThePrint in an interaction Wednesday.
He also emphasised on the need to create awareness among students about schemes such as Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), and the other initiatives being taken for their benefit.
Kumar, former vice-chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), took over earlier this month as chief of the body that formulates regulations for universities across India.
An IIT professor, Kumar also spoke about the newly announced digital university and regulations for online learning, and how edtech companies can help with this.
“In the next few months, the government will roll out initiatives for students in the field of online education. All of them have to come together so that students can garner maximum benefit out of it,” he said.
Elaborating on the online education initiatives, he mentioned that the ABC scheme must be implemented widely, along with the digital university.
The ABC scheme
The ABC scheme will help students get tailor-made degrees, which means they can choose to pursue different courses from separate universities and collect credits, which can later be redeemed to obtain a degree. The credits can be stored in the credit account of the student, somewhat like a bank account.
Kumar said if universities offer online courses, the ABC scheme will be more beneficial because students will have a wide range of options to choose from.
“It is an excellent scheme for students and they need to be made aware of such schemes so that they can utilise them to their benefit. It will give students a lot of flexibility in terms of deciding on courses. We need to create awareness through workshops and other means,” the UGC chairman said.
The commission has already started holding meetings with various central and state universities to explain the implementation of ABC, and discuss online education with them, he explained.
Sources told ThePrint that the ABC scheme has not picked up the pace so far as top-ranked institutions like Delhi University, JNU, the IITs and IIMs, among others, are waiting for the Centre to come up with defined regulations for online education before they jump on to implementation of schemes.
Asked about this, Kumar said: “For ABC to spread widely, we need to have defined rules for online education. We are internally discussing all these issues and will be ready with regulations for online education in the next one month.”
No cut-off for students for online programmes
The government is trying to open up the space for online education in a big way, through amendments in the UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes) Regulations, 2020.
“We are working on regulations through which top-rated institutions will be able to offer online courses from academic session 2022-23. There will also be no cut-off for students to take admission in the programmes offered online. The minimum qualification will be Class 12 pass, on the basis of which students will be able to seek admission in their choice of course,” Jagadesh Kumar explained.
“The regulations will also pave the way for the digital university, which we are trying to create through a hub-and-spoke model. Various institutions will be the knowledge-providing hubs in this case,” he added.
The new UGC head also talked about a greater role for edtech companies once the digital university is set up. The idea is that edtech companies can partner with education institutions and offer learning and examination support.
“The edtech players will be able to participate in a major way once the digital university comes up… They can offer support in terms of the resources that they have, like technology to offer live lectures and conduct exams,” he said.
“The condition that we have for the edtech companies is that they should provide quality education and be affordable for students,” Kumar added.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)