Come 2022-23, you may be able to pursue a hybrid programme (online plus offline) in computer science engineering, data analytics, business management or even nursing.
On the other hand, completely ODL (open and distance learning) programmes in the areas of physiotherapy, clinical psychology and industrial engineering could be tweaked either to make them hybrid (with at least 60-65 per cent offline) or completely physical mode.
Distance learning programmes at the higher-education level are likely to see an overhaul in the next 12-15 months. This will involve the development of quality standards and also a set framework on what modules of a curriculum could be offered on distance-learning platforms.
Sources told Moneycontrol that the idea is to expand access to education to learners, while keeping quality intact. This is part of the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
Distance education mode is preferred by students for financial reasons or personal commitments. These programmes are priced 20-30 percent lower than full-time courses and students can take them from home. Annual examinations are required to be taken up at test centres.
It is estimated that 4.5 million students are enrolled across various open and distance education programmes across the country, while conventional education programmes have close to 15 million students.
“Students will get increased access and equity in higher-education programmes. But the consensus is that some courses in engineering and medicine cannot be offered completely in distance mode due to the nature of the programme. So, there will be expert committees looking into how the modules will be divided,” said a government official.
These changes are likely to implement for new academic batches starting 2022-23. This means that for existing students, it is the status quo.
What will change?
Subjects such as industrial engineering, architecture, nutrition, clinical psychology and physiotherapy will be among programmes that will not be allowed to be offered fully online in the future.
“It is not feasible for professionals involved in saving human lives or property to be purely educated only online. Hence detailed rules will be set out,” added another official.
Right now, the employability of students enrolled in ODL programmes has been a challenge. The starting salary of a fresher pursuing a full-time BSc would be Rs 5 lakh on average while the same for an ODL BSc programme would be Rs 3.5 lakh.
The government wants to set up standardised rules so that the quality of programmes offered by universities is uniform across all courses.
For students, this means that distance education will not be available for some degrees. For other generic degrees ones such as BA or B.Com, there will be fully online, fully offline or hybrid options.
Institutions will have to take prior accreditation from the Education Ministry before being able to offer Open Distance Learning programmes. This move is to have similar regulatory approval structures for offline and online courses.
“Institutes that are among the top 50 in the list of NIRF Rankings will be encouraged to launch degree and diploma programmes through their online platforms,” said the second official quoted above.
Such online courses will also be suitably integrated into the higher-education curricula of institutes so that those willing to take up blended programmes can also benefit.
COURTESY – MONEY CONTROL