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UGC building in New Delhi | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) is pushing colleges and universities to use SWAYAM, the government’s online study portal, so that they can begin their academic sessions earlier than decided.

SWAYAM is the government’s online massive open online courses (MOOCs) platform that has a wide range of study material.

The commission has now asked colleges to start online classes from July even though the actual academic session is slated to begin in August for second-year and third-year students and from September for first-year students.

In a letter written to vice-chancellors of all universities on 19 May, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain said, “In the prevailing Covid-19 scenario, universities and colleges are encouraged to make the optimum use of the SWAYAM online platform for the benefit of students.”

The letter added that the courses can be offered from July and also attaches a detailed time table with the details of courses and when they start on SWAYAM. The schedule has specific courses meant for specific institutions.

The letter, however, only talks about non-engineering courses.

Also read: ‘Neither feasible, nor desirable’ — DU students and teachers oppose open-book online exams

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More than 120 courses available on SWAYAM

The letter noted that there are 82 courses for undergraduate students and 42 for the postgraduate students that will be on offer from July onwards. It also stated that there can be a SWAYAM examination in November 2020 for courses that students have taken up on the platform and credits for which can be transferred to the regular course.

“The universities and colleges are requested to popularise these SWAYAM courses among students and faculty in your respective universities and colleges through official website and social media handles,” the letter read.

Though the UGC asked institutions to “popularise” the platform and “encourage” them to make optimum use of it, it also said it is not mandatory.

“We have given an additional option to institutions to start their session early, so that they do not have to deal with academic loss later. If they wish to go ahead with it, they can, if they don’t, they can just wait for colleges to reopen,” the UGC secretary told ThePrint.

The government has been pushing for a bigger shift to online education amid the lockdown as institutions have been shut since the second week of March. An online education package — PM-e Vidya — was also announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a part of the Narendra Modi government’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic relief package.

This includes online learning content for both schools and colleges and SWAYAM is one of the main components of educational content for colleges.

Also read: Students can now study engineering and economics together as UGC approves dual degrees


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