THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fresh admissions to distance education courses in the Calicut, Kannur and Kerala varsities are likely to be inordinately delayed this year as UGC has deferred provisional recognition for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) courses of the three varsities for the 2020-21 academic year.
In the Covid’s wake, the UGC has proposed the idea of a ‘blended learning’ approach that involves transforming 40 per cent of university classes into online mode. Accordingly, UGC has announced that it will come out with a fresh set of regulations so as to integrate ODL programmes with online learning.
The varsities had submitted application for fresh recognition of their distance education programmes for 2020-21 as early as in December last year. However, it was only recently that the UGC informed varsities that their applications have been rejected. Once the new Integrated ODL and Online Regulations are brought out, the varsities will have to apply afresh. “By the time the UGC comes up with the revised notification and the universities submit revised courses as per the requirement for recognition, it may take several months. The delay will adversely affect admissions,” said R Vasanthagopal, director, School of Distance Education, University of Kerala.
Over 65,000 students seek admission for UG and PG distance education courses offered by Calicut University alone, If the enrolment in Kannur and Kerala universities for ODL courses are also taken into account, the numbers add up to nearly one lakh.
“The uncertainty over admissions has worried a large number of students, especially those from the Malabar region, for whom distance education is perhaps the only option,” said a Kannur University official.
However, Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) sought to play down the concerns. “The distance education admission window is extended for many months after regular admissions get over in colleges. So the present uncertainty is likely to be addressed within that time-frame,” said Rajan Varughese, Member Secretary, KSHEC.
Relaxing the norms
The UGC is reportedly considering relaxing the norms for open and distance-learning courses. Presently, higher education institutions having NAAC accreditation with a Cumulative Grade Point Average score (CGPA) of 3.26 or above can offer ODL courses while those with a lesser score need to obtain provisional recognition. It is learnt that UGC is likely to reduce this norm to 3.0 CGPA making Calicut and Kerala Universities, with CGPA of 3.13 and 3.03, respectively, eligible. However, Kannur University with a NAAC score of 2.19 could be affected and the state government is expected to take up the varsity’s case with the UGC.