The Distance Education Council (DEC), which was the apex regulatory body for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) courses offered by universities across the country, has been dissolved.
Instead from now on, the University Grants Commission shall regulate the distance education (also known as correspondence degree courses) programmes.
As an interim measure to streamline all courses offered under the ODL mode, the UGC has directed all universities not to grant further affiliation or approval to any new centre for open and distance learning courses.
The DEC was a statutory body functioning under the control of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). The council was dissolved based on the arguments that the DEC which was created by the IGNOU cannot be the regulator for other universities in respect of distance education programmes. The HRD Ministry had belatedly woken up to the fact that there is an apparent conflict of interest between IGNOU and other universities when it comes to offering courses through the ODL mode.
Many universities are offering distance education courses without even caring to seek the recognition of DEC. To end the confusion prevailing in the field of distance education system, the Madhava Menon Committee had first recommended removing the DEC from the purview or the IGNOU, which was strongly opposed by the IGNOU Teachers Association.
The UGC Secretary Akhilesh Gupta in his recent letter to the Vice Chancellors of all universities said “The HRD Ministry has entrusted all the regulatory responsibilities of the ODL education system in the country upon UGC. The UGC in the meantime, is working on development of appropriate regulations for maintaining standard in ODL programmes.”
Therefore, he advised universities to ensure that no further affiliation or approval are granted to any new centre for ODL programmes till such regulations are notified and come into force.
Supporting the move, former Vice Chancellor of University of Madras SP Thyagarajan said, “The council is the regulatory body for the distance education programmes in the country. If one of the universities is going to be operating the council itself, there may not be uniform maintenance of standards.” Hence, he felt that “ideally, an independent council should review every programme offered in all institutions.”