Get your degrees online: UGC issues draft rules, Aadhaar likely to be made mandatory for courses

The examinations for the courses may be conducted on campus of higher educational institutions, with Aadhaar biometric authentication of each student.

In what might pave way for obtaining degrees online, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has drafted UGC (Online Education) regulations, 2017 and has sought public feedback till August 18.

Once the regulations are in place, students and working professionals will be able to obtain a degree online, recognised by the UGC. Institutes will be able to offer online degrees in all fields, except engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture and physiotherapy.

At present, the Commission does not recognise any course offered fully online. A student can get a degree by enrolling in a university and attending classes or through distance-education. From this year, the universities were allowed to offer 20% of their course material through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platform called Swayam. But a degree obtained through online course is not recognised. A number of private universities offer online degrees but not many students opt for them as they are not recognised by the UGC.

HT had reported about the draft regulations in June. “Institutions may design, develop and deliver online programmes leading to the award of a degree or diploma via internet, once recognised…,” draft regulations state.

“The programmes may be designed for conventional learners, as well as working professionals and other individuals aspiring to acquire knowledge and associated academic credentials. The delivery process shall be conducted online via a suitably designed online technology platform,” the regulations state.

The regulations will allow universities and higher educational institutes offer degrees by conducting exams online. Students will not have to attend classes physically and to qualify, a university has to be NAAC-accredited with a minimum score of 3.25 on a four-point scale.

The regulations point out that examinations should be conducted online, under technological supervision. “Online computer-based testing platforms with provisions for integration with Aadhaar and live audio/video monitoring via webcam and screen capture shall be used. Also, wherever possible, proctored examination shall be conducted.”

Examinations may also be conducted on campus of higher educational institutions, with Aadhaar biometric authentication of each student, screen capture of the systems used for exam, and CCTV recording along with live online supervision. Counselling, application processing and fee payment can also be done online.