KOCHI: A dedicated Open University from the coming academic year is very much on the cards, if the state government’s plans in this regard indeed fructify. The move follows the tremendous pressure on the government to go in for an open varsity to accommodate the distance- learning courses, which were stopped for a while, and offer new job-oriented courses.
Rajan Varughese, Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) member secretary, said the government appointed a special officer and the preliminary work has got underway.
“The preliminary work has begun. We are in the process of establishing the varsity from the coming academic year. Before that, we will factor in the suggestions and recommendations of the special officer. The budget earmarked `1 crore for setting up the university,” he said.
The open university concept’s major advantage is its statewide jurisdiction. It does not require massive investment on campuses or classrooms and can function minus the costly administrative setup of a regular university. An open university will also be able to leverage the ICT tools to reach out to a wider student base.
Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel told Express the government has initiated steps to establish the university at the existing regional centres of the distance- learning programmes.
“We have decided to start the functioning of the open university at the existing regional centres. The regional centre which has the maximum enrolment of students will be the varsity’s headquarters.”
“The distance-learning courses have to resume pretty soon as the courses had been stopped for the past one year. So we are fast-tracking the proceedings to start the courses from the coming academic year,” Jaleel said.
The UGC had directed all the universities in the state to stop distance-learning courses since no university in Kerala had a NAAC grading of 3.26 or above.
Hence, the UGC had categorically instructed the state’s varsities to stop admitting students for distance-learning programmes from the 2018-2019 academic year.
Though the government had appealed to the UGC to grant an exemption to Kerala so that the state’s universities can continue to offer distance-learning programmes, it was rejected.
Later, the KSHEC mooted the idea of setting up an open university so that the state can resume distance-learning courses.