Edtech firms can tie up with universities to develop online courses – new guidelines by the UGC

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Edtech companies will soon be allowed to “collaborate” with higher education institutes offering online undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to help develop course content and carry out evaluation of students under a set of sweeping reforms planned by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

UGC chairperson M Jagadesh Kumar told  on Monday that the proposed amendments are aimed at encouraging greater flexibility for colleges and universities and harnessing the technological tools available with the fast growing ed-tech sector.

“Through amendments in the UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes) Regulations, 2020, universities and colleges offering online UG and PG programmes will be allowed to collaborate with ed-tech platforms towards developing course content and Financial Rules,” Kumar said.

The amended draft regulations are likely to be put out in public domain for suggestions and feedback in the first week of March.

Kumar said the regulator also plans to allow top-rated autonomous colleges to offer online degrees from the 2022-23 academic session. Autonomous colleges that have been among the top 100 rank holders in NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) twice in the last three cycles or have NAAC grading of minimum 3.26 will be covered under the relaxations.

Currently, only universities and their constituent colleges that fulfill these criteria are allowed to offer online degrees. At present, 59 universities offer 120 UG, 29 PG and two PG diploma degrees online, of which 15 per cent are science courses, 50 per cent related to business administration, and 35 per cent to humanities.