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Colleges @ Home: Universities gearing up to
Colleges @ Home: Universities gearing up to offer online degrees


NEW DELHI: In January this year, seven Indian universities were granted permission to start full-fledged degree programmes online.


This represents a significant departure from the earlier policy which, despite being online-friendly, did not allow more than 20 percent courses in a degree programme to be taught in online mode. But the new policy is in line with the Central Government’s effort to increase enrolment in higher education through online degree courses. According to government data, just 26.3 percent youths in the agegroup of 18-23 are enrolled in some form of higher education. The government aims to reach 50 percent by 2035.


Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech that the online degree programmes shall be offered only by top-ranking institutions. These are universities placed in the top 100 as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework. She had added that only a few such institutions would be allowed to offer such programmes to begin with.

The first batch includes one public and six private universities. These are Indira Gandhi National Open University; JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in Mysuru; Manipal Academy of Higher Education; Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune; Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy, Thanjavur; Dr D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune; and Amity University, Noida.

Many of them are ready to launch. Amity University will offer 24 online programs, including six undergraduate and four postgraduate degrees. From this year, Bharati Vidyapeeth is starting with Bachelor and Master of Business Administration – BBA and MBA programmes – to begin with.


One of the key differences between online and offline programmes is that the former allows learning in an “asynchronous mode” – there are no fixed lecture periods and students can access e-tutorials and online lectures at their own pace.


Bhushan Patwardhan, vice-chairman of the UGC, recently wrote in The Times of India: “The online curriculum will have to be of high quality to make the students job-ready, otherwise the increase in enrolment will serve no purpose. For these online programs to gain academic validity, the mind-set of the society must change.” There are misgivings about online courses among many in academia.

M M Salunkhe, VC, Bharti Vidyapeeth, argued that online programmes are “more customised” to the individual needs of students. “The flexibility means you don’t have to choose between work and education,” he explained. “Typically, if a person is working full-time and needs further qualification, an online degree is the best choice. A big advantage of online learning is immediate application of concepts to practice especially if the learner is a working professional.”
(updated on march 24th, 2020)
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