The decision will see higher education providers rated A+ under the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, roughly 15% of Indian universities, eligible to deliver online degrees, allowing them to tap into a new market of remote students and executives who can’t attend regular class times.
“Online teaching has a bright future in India as Indian universities have not enough resources to cater growing demand”
“We are creating an enabling environment where not just students but working executives can study and earn a degree without travelling the distance,” human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said during the announcement.
Importantly, the announcement specifies that only non-technical degrees could be taken entirely online, meaning it is likely students considering an engineering or science degree will still be required to study on campus, while business and accounting students can choose to go online. Clarity on this point will come soon, according to officials.
“In a month or so, the rules will be finalised. [Higher education regulator] University Grants Commission is working on it,” said higher education secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma.
AEERI general secretary Rupesh Patel said the decision was a good move on the part of the government as India seeks to cater to more students seeking a tertiary education, but didn’t think there would be a significant impact on students going abroad.
“[There’s a] possibly negligible effect as the students going abroad prefer classroom learning,” he said.
“I personally believe the students that opt for full online degrees are different. However online teaching has a bright future in India as Indian universities have not enough resources to cater growing demand through just classroom learning.”
The decision to allow providers to deliver courses online sees a reversal of a December 2016 outright ban, implemented in response to a growing number of institutions providing online programs that were not recognised by UGC.
The higher education regulator consistently refused to recognise online degrees, yet, some institutions, such as the Karnataka State Open University, chose to continue to do so to keep up with international market trends.
India currently represents the second largest cohort of international students globally.