As per the reports, University Grants Commission (UGC) is likely to relax the criteria and allow institutes/ Universities to offer more open and distance learning courses for the academic session 2020-21. The Commission is planning to take this step to help the institutes make up for the learning loss due to the lockdown imposed to constrain the COVID-19 spread.

The issue of setting a new benchmark for these institutes to begin the courses was discussed at a UGC meeting held recently.

To ensure that high quality of education is provided through ODL, in 2019 the institutes which have an accreditation NAAC score of 3.26 or above were only allowed to offer ODL (Open and Distance learning) courses.  Many popular state universities and private institutes have scores less than 3.26 and were unable to offer ODL courses. It was discussed at the meeting that the criteria should be relaxed and brought to an accreditation score of 3 for universities to offer ODL, or correspondence courses. 

An official from the commission said that, many UGC members at the Thursday’s meeting cited the situation in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and said it will be better to allow institutions with lesser scores to offer these courses at least for a year. It was felt the benchmark of a NAAC score of 3 should be allowed.” Officials also cited that, “once a final call is taken, UGC will officially announce it.

Out of 118 dual-mode universities across the country, only 40 universities are eligible to offer distance education courses as per the UGC rules.