THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government is learnt to have informally permitted universities to apply for approval of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) courses from the UGC this year. This, after the High Court stayed a clause in the Open University Ordinance, that had prohibited state universities from offering such courses.
The new development comes as a relief to nearly 1.5 lakh students who are set to obtain admission to courses in distance education mode as well as enroll for private registration in state universities this year. Even though the Open University has been launched with much fanfare, the government has now realised it would take many months for the newly set-up varsity to come up with its own courses.
A senior official of Calicut University told The New Indian Express that the Higher Education Department has informally given the go-ahead to the varsity as the last date for applying for UGC approval for ODL courses, for upcoming January 2021 session, is October 15. Calicut University has the highest number of enrollments among state universities in the distance education mode.
Meanwhile, Kerala University has already received approval from the UGC for conducting ODL courses and has been allowed to conduct admissions for the ongoing June 2020 session itself. Kerala University will take a decision on Thursday on whether to apply to the UGC for sanction of ODL courses for the January 2021 session as well, on the lines of Calicut University.
MG University does not offer distance education courses at present. Even though the UGC's revised eligibility criteria have made the varsity eligible to apply for distance education courses, it is not clear whether it will apply for approval of ODL programmes for the January 2021session.
However, Kannur University, with a NAAC score below the prescribed 3.01, will not be eligible to apply for distance education courses from the UGC. Instead, the varsity has sought the state government's permission to offer such courses in private registration mode this year.
Government's wait and watch
According to a top official in the Higher Education Department, the government will wait for the High Court's final verdict, on the Open University Ordinance,which is expected on Friday. "Based on the High Court's verdict, the government will take a call on whether to amend the controversial clause in the Ordinance that bars state varsities from offering ODL courses," said the official.