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Single NET likely for next year too
NEW DELHI : With reluctant and overloaded
Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) still being coaxed to hold the next National Eligibility Test (NET), the Board has told the government that it cant hold two tests in a year. 

The reluctant CBSE was told to conduct NET as a stop-gap arrangement till the responsibility was shifted to the proposed National Testing Agency, but the Ministry of Human Resource Development hasn't made any progress in this direction hence the CBSE has been told to hold the NET this year as well.

It may be at least another year before such a testing agency is set up, sources said.

Following the CBSE's refusal to hold the NET twice a year, the department of school education, an HRD ministry wing, had said the responsibility could be transferred to other agencies.

A meeting chaired by school education secretary Anil Swarup last month discussed the difficulties raised by the CBSE and resolved that it could be a better option to engage another suitable agency.

A senior official in the UGC said there was no immediate plan to transfer the test from the CBSE, the country's largest school board.

The NET, which candidates need to clear for an assistant professorship, was earlier a biannual exam. The UGC held it twice a year since the exam was started in 1984 before the higher education regulator transferred the responsibility to the CBSE in 2014.

The CBSE also held the exam twice - once in June and the other in December - but shifted the test for December 2016 to January this year.

Sources said the test scheduled for June 2017 would be held in November.

Aspiring college teachers said the shift away from the traditional biannual exam to a single test would jeopardise the higher education dreams of the marginalised sections.

Those who clear the test become eligible for teaching jobs in universities and colleges. The top 8,800 candidates are awarded junior research fellowships.

UGC warns varsities & colleges on PFMS

From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : The University Grants Commission (UGC) has threatened universities and colleges to hold back funds, including student scholarships, if they do not registered with the Public Finance Monitoring System (PFMS).

"Henceforth, beneficiary institutions will not receive any financial assistance from the UGC unless registered on PFMS portal," UGC vice-chairman H Devaraj said on June 14.

The UGC has been repeatedly requesting universities and colleges since April last year to register with the PFMS portal but most of them are still dodging registration. Now the regulator has toughened its stand.

The system has been created by the Finance Ministry for online transfer and management of funds to ensure transparency.

The Centre decided to bring all universities, colleges and other higher educational institutions under the PFMS from April 1, 2015 for timely release of funds to state governments as well as beneficiaries of various central sector schemes.

Disbursal of student scholarships directly to their bank accounts under direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme was also brought under the ambit of PFMS.

To bring all the higher educational institutions on board, the UGC requested them to digitize records of all the students availing scholarships under various schemes of the commission. It also held at least two interface meetings with the universities in last seven months for collection of the students' details, including their bank account information.

"A number of grant-in-aid bills related to old manual cases are still lying pending as the beneficiary university and institutions are still not mapped or registered on the PFMS portal," a UGC official said.


  University Grants Commission
Bahadurshah Zafar Marg
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UGC seeks applications for 'eminence' status
By Our Correspondent
: From September 13 the University Grants Commission started entertaining applications from institutions of higher learning seeking "status of eminence".

The UGC will give each institution 90 days to apply for the status, which will give them the freedom to decide their own curriculum, fee structure and admit foreigners up to 30 per cent of the total student strength.

Higher education secretary K.K. Sharma and officiating UGC chairperson V.S. Chauhan said 20 institutions - 10 government and 10 private - would be chosen for the maiden status by March 2018.

With the status of eminence, a government institution can get grants of up to Rs 1,000 crore with the condition that it has to raise at least 25 per cent of the cost for proposed infrastructure development over the next five years.

Officials said the government institutions ranked among the top 50 by the HRD ministry in their respective categories such as engineering, general universities or management, would be eligible to apply for the status.

The institutions will have to present a report on how they plan to achieve excellence over the next 15 years.

There is, however, no eligibility criteria for private institutions. Even sponsoring groups planning to set up new institutes can apply for the status with their prospective plans.

The private institutions will not get any central grants.

Officials said an empowered group of experts would be constituted by the UGC with approval from the appointments committee of the cabinet to scrutinising the proposals and recommend institutions.

The UGC has already notified the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017, for private institutions and UGC (Declaration of Government Educational Institutions as Institutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017, for public ones.

Unlike other institutions, the 20 with the status of eminence would be able to decide their free structure, particularly for foreign students.

The IITs currently charge Rs 2 lakh annually for B.Tech courses for domestic students and Rs 6 lakh for foreigners. The new status will allow them to increase their fee with provision of loan and scholarships.

The "institutions of excellence" will also have the freedom to decide their curriculum, unlike those that are guided by a UGC model.

UGC distance learning rules from next year
NEW DELHI : Granting relief to a number of institutions, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has postponed the implementation of regulations for open and distance learning (ODL) programmes to the 2018-19 academic session.

"The process of admission for 2017-18 by the universities/institutions is ongoing. Keeping in view the para 3, sub-para (1) of Part-II of the said regulations, it has been decided that the UGC (Open and Distance learning) Regulations, 2017, will be operationalised from 2018-19," the UGC said in a fresh notification on July 17.

The move comes following realisation that an immediate implementation of the regulations from the date of notification would technically render invalid all the ODL programmes offered by various higher educational institutions in case they do not seek fresh recognition from the UGC.

The UGC had notified the ODL Regulations, 2017 in an official gazette on June 23.

Many of the universities and other higher educational institutions, which had just got the UGC's approval to their open and distance learning (ODL) programmes in May-June, found themselves in a catch-22 situation as the new regulations mandatorily required them to make a fresh application to get approval for their ODL courses.

Stalling of new admissions to the approved ODL programmes in the academic session of 2017-18 was another immediate consequence of its implementation.

"Every higher educational institution offering a programme in the ODL mode in pursuance of an approval granted to it for the purpose by the then Distance Education Council or by the commission or by any other regulatory authority or intending to offer a programme in ODL mode from the academic session immediately after the notification of these regulations shall, for grant of recognition, make an application to the commission," para 3, sub-para (1) of Part-II of the UGC Regulations stipulate.

Open varsities allowed M.Phil, Ph.D programme
By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI : Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOU) mounting pressure on the University Grants Commission has borne fruit. The UGC has allowed open universities to run M.Phil and Ph.D programme in non-technical subjects. 

This was disclosed by Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on August 30 after a meeting with the vice-chancellors of all the open universities here.

"The open universities have been allowed to offer research programmes. But they have to follow the minimum norms," he told reporters after the meeting.

The open universities have been specifically told that the relief will hold good only for those universities that meet all the quality requirements for these programmes, such as holding entrance tests and enforcing course work before beginning the thesis.

The relief comes after seven years as the open universities were barred from running M.Phil and Ph.D programme vide Regulation 5 of the UGC Regulation 2009 notified on July 17, 2009.

With the change in stand, mostly because of persistent defiance by the IGNOU and brewing revolt by others, the UGC recently wrote to all the 15 open universities allowing them to offer research (M.Phil and Ph.D) programmes. They are, however, barred from offering technical programmes such as B.Tech, M.Tech and engineering Ph.Ds.

In July this year when the UGC revised its Regulations 2009 it retained the bar clause and hence the open universities continued to be barred from running research courses.

The universities are established either by and Act of Parliament or a state legislature and have the autonomy to frame their own courseware and award degrees. The restrictions imposed on them, they feel are unlawful.

At today's meeting, the vice-chancellors gave vent to their feeling and told the minister about the difficulties they had been facing from the University Grants Commission, which began regulating open universities since 2013.

Earlier, the open universities were monitored by the Distance Education Council, created under the IGNOU Act. But in 2012, the government brought the council under the commission through an executive order.

Subsequently, the council was renamed the Distance Education Bureau which, functioning under the commission, came up with its own regulations in 2014 asking the open universities to seek its approval for every course every year.

Towards this, each of the 15 universities had to furnish an affidavit every year saying it did not offer any online or research courses.

Even after the ban was imposed in 2009, some of the open universities like IGNOU had continued to offer research programmes, citing the acts under which they had been established. But the 2014 regulations of the Distance Education Bureau forced them to scrap their M.Phil and Ph.D programmes.

"We have decided to resume M.Phil and Ph.D programmes from next year," IGNOU vice-chancellor Ravindra Kumar said.

Today's meeting also decided to allow 20 per cent of every course in any distance education programme to be taught online, enabling the students to pursue this part of the course at a different university if they want.

Universities teaching regular courses are already allowed to offer up to 20 per cent of the course content online, with the same concession to inter-varsity student mobility.

Varsities told to adopt online course norms

By Sanjiv Dube
: On July 27 last year the UGC directed all universities and deemed universities to amend their act/statutes or ordinances by August-end to facilitate transfer of credits of their students opting for the degree programmes under scheme SWAYAM, a massive online open courses (Moocs) platform.

To give effect to its directive the UGC, on July 19, notified the UGC (Credit Framework for Online Learning Courses through Swayam) Regulation, 2016 in the official gazette (extraordinary).

This was done, according to the notification, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (f) and (g) of sub-section (1) of Section 26 of the UGC Act 1956.

According to the notification SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds) was being launched to "widen the access to higher education and to bring down its cost by using technological advances" and added that this was being done through "Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The notification authorises the UGC to notify a standing committee to resolve any issues that may arise in the implementation of these regulations during the transition period of three years.

The programme, which seeks to fill the gap created by the acute shortage of quality teachers in the country's higher educational institutions, is likely to be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15.

The Swayam will offer a virtual class room to students with structured lectures by subject experts.

"An institution can only allow up to 20% of the total courses being offered in a particular programme in a semester through the online learning courses provided through SWAYAM platform," the UGC regulations stipulate.

Students, registered with the Swayam, can complete their entire programme by attending classes online and take "proctored" examinations at the end of each semester to move to the next level. For the proctored examinations, centres with adequate facilities will be opened in universities.

The credit earned by the students will be transferred to their parent university by the one conducting the programme at the Moocs platform.

If PhD before 2009, no need to clear NET
NEW DELHI : The Central government gave a major relief to researchers. It decided to exempt pre-2009 Ph.D holders from clearing the mandatory National Eligibility Test (NET) to get teaching jobs. A notification in this regard will be issued soon.

The information was given in the Lok Sabha on May 9 by HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who said the BJP government had decided to undo the “injustice” the Congress-led UPA government had meted out to research scholars by mandating NET even for pre-2009 PhD holders.

Prior to 2009, there was no requirement for PhD holders to clear NET or State Level Eligibility Test to become assistant professors. This regulation was brought by the UGC after reports of educational institutions lowering the bar for teaching.

Subsequently, the UGC issued “Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges” during the UPA tenure, making it mandatory for PhD holders (pre and post-2009) to clear NET for jobs.

No engg, tech courses in distance mode
NEW DELHI : The University Grants Commission (UGC) has banned universities and institutes from offering diploma and post graduate courses in engineering and technology through distance learning mode until further orders.

In its notification dated March 11, the regulator has warned that it would take action against institutions violating the ban.

The Commission, in the process of finalising regulations for open and distant learning mode, has also said it will not give retrospective approval to distant learning programmes by institutes "at this stage".

The institutions have been barred from offering BE and B.Tech through distant education mode following a ban in 2009-10 by the former distance education council on the orders of the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Referring to the government's previous decision, the Commission, in its notice, directed universities and higher educational institutions not to offer degrees in engineering and technology programmes.

"No university/institution deemed to be university/institution should offer diploma, bachelors and masters level programme in engineering and technology other than MBA and MCA till the finalisation of the UGC (open and distance learning) regulations, 2014 or notification of relevant regulations by an independent regulatory authority established by the central government, whichever is earlier," the commission said in its public notice.

"UGC has also decided not to consider any request for ex-post facto approval for the ODL programmes offered by any university or other higher educational institutions at this stage," it added.

The notification did not mention names of the institutions that offer such courses.

"The UGC has been issuing guidelines and notifications from time to time to regulate courses being offered, but it does not have legal backing to enforce its guidelines, particularly over two thirds of the universities and colleges which are not under the grant list of the higher education regulator," UGC member M M Ansari said when contacted.

He also wondered why the Commission has to issue a notification when it did not have a comprehensive list of institutions violating the ban.

"Issuing such notifications without identifying the institutions has no meaning," he said adding that there were many private universities, deemed to be universities and state universities offering such programmes in distance learning mode but the UGC did not have the authority to stop them.

UGC makes affiliation rules tough for tech colleges

NEW DELHI : The technical education institutions in the country will now have to face relatively tougher rules for university affiliation.

This follows the Supreme Court decision in Association of Management of Private Colleges vs All India Council for Technical Education & others delivered on April 25, 2013.

According to the new affiliation rules -- UGC Regulations 2014 -- finalized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) recently both the old and the new engineering colleges would have to produce complete information about building and staff on the affidavit to be considered for an affiliation.

Called as the UGC [Affiliation of colleges offering technical education by universities] Regulations, 2014 the new rules make it mandatory for the new colleges to deposit Rs 1 crore for 10 years in the university account and Rs 30 lakh as ‘security fund’.

The UGC [Affiliation of colleges offering technical education by universities] Regulations, 2014 would be effective from the 2014-15 academic session.

The universities would have to ensure compulsory accreditation from the NSC and its programmes from NBA to the colleges, according to the UGC Regulations 2014 to be notified soon.

According to the UGC, the university has to be most cautious and vigilant while giving affiliation. A new college can be given affiliation with a condition that it has committed to give related application for NBA evaluation within six months.

Old colleges should also submit application for accreditation from the NASE or the NBA within six months to six years. The Commission said that a university should have to submit a compliance report every year to it regarding all affiliated colleges. The report would be uploaded on the website of the university. The UGC will take action against universities for non-compliance of its rules.

The Vivekananda Technical University has asked all the institutions, which have applied for affiliation for the year 2014-15, to submit their reports regarding building, infrastructure and human resources by April 4 compulsorily.

The affiliation fee has also been fixed for the colleges. The fee for minority institutions will be Rs 2 lakh and for other institutions Rs 3 lakh. For extension of affiliation, the fee will be Rs 75,000 for minority institutions and for other institutions Rs 1 lakh. The late fee will be Rs 2 lakh.

Technical and engineering colleges have to deposit Rs 1 crore fund for affiliation, whereas, for pharmacy, architecture and MCA, the amount would Rs 50 lakh each. Besides, the engineering colleges have to deposit Rs 30 lakh as security fund, whereas, it would be Rs 15 lakh each for others.

The University Executive Council will take decision regarding affiliation. The new rules have caused a flutter among the operators of old and new colleges. Many old colleges neither have sufficient building, nor staff. Now, as all information has to be given in the affidavit, the danger of action is looming large on giving wrong information.

Accreditation must for higher edu institutions

By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI : All higher educational institutions in the country, except technical education one, will now have to get accredited under law.

The law, called the UGC (Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions) Regulations 2012, were notified in the official gazette on February 19, and come into force with immediate effect.

The UGC Regulations 2012 say that all higher education institutions who fail to comply with the assessment and accreditation clause will be barred from financial aid granted by the UGC or the Ministry of Human Resource Development but says nothing of the private institutions who do not take or aspire to take any financial aid from the government. Nor do the Regulations say anything about institutions like the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) who blatantly defy the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The Regulation require that all higher education institutions (expect technical education colleges governed by the AICTE) apply for accreditation within a period of six months to the accreditation agencies namely the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, the National Board of Accreditation, and the National Accreditation Board currently recognised by the UGC.

The Regulations say that all institutions which have been in existence for six years or from where two batches of students have passed out (whichever is earlier) will need to seek accreditation within this stipulated time. Those that haven’t yet completed these criteria must apply within six months of completing six years of operation or passing out of two batches apply for accreditation.

The Regulations, says the notification, seeks to ensure that students can make informed choices about academic courses, institutions can raise quality and seek international recognition for which benchmarking is necessary. Hitherto, accreditation was voluntary in India and less than 10 per cent of all institutions are accredited.

The regulations will be applicable to all 44 Central universities,; about 300 state universities, over 100 deemed universities and over 33,000 colleges of which 6,000 are UGC funded.


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