AICTE says Merger of Education Regulators Including UGC, NCTE will take Place This Year

Technical Colleges will now Need AICTE Approval to Begin Online, Distance Learning Courses

AICTE says an institution that has a NAAC score of 3.26 or has featured in the top 100 of NIRF ranking at least twice in 3 preceding cycles will be allowed to start open or ODL courses.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has released a set of regulations to improve the quality of engineering and management courses that are offered online and through the open and distance learning (ODL) mode.

According to these regulations, which were released on 3 March, institutions that wish to begin online courses in technical disciplines will now need an AICTE approval. Currently, several unregulated engineering and management colleges offer distance learning courses, which are not recognized by the AICTE.

As a result, the council decided to come up with the AICTE (Open and Distance Learning Education and Online Education) Guidelines, 2021.

We were getting feedback about many unregulated online and distance learning courses being offered to students. The students would pay a hefty amount of fee but when they eventually went for a job they faced hurdles because the courses were not AICTE recognized. The regulations that we have come up with will apply to all technical institutions that want to start online or distance learning programs. They will have to take approval from the council and adhere to the rules,

A senior AICTE official, who wished to remain unnamed, told ThePrint.

The ODL regulations will apply to institutions offering courses in management and allied areas, computer applications, artificial intelligence and data science in the engineering and technology domain, logistics and travel, and tourism.

These rules are also in line with the new National Education Policy that talks about using technology extensively in education to increase the gross enrolment ratio (GRE) in higher education.

Eligibility Criteria for Colleges, cap on the Number of Students

The guidelines, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint, provide a road map on online courses for institutions.

To start with, the council has come up with eligibility criteria for institutions that can offer online or open distance learning courses.

It states that an institution that has a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score of 3.26 or has featured in the top 100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) at least twice in three preceding cycles shall be permitted to start full-fledged open or ODL courses.

Furthermore, colleges that offer online programs will be able to admit a maximum of three times the sanctioned number of students in the conventional model of a particular course.

For students, the regulation notes that “a learner enrolled for a program under ODL mode and/or Online mode in an institution recognized by the AICTE shall be eligible for mobility from one mode of learning to another with the approval of authorities.”

It adds that a student residing in any part of the country will also be eligible to enroll in any program offered by an institution recognized by the AICTE under the ODL mode.

Admissions, contact programs, and examinations for learners will strictly need to be done within the territorial jurisdiction of the institution, the rules state.

A student residing outside India will also be able to enroll in an online course.

The rules further state that “the program offered by the institutions through ODL mode/Online mode is equivalent to the Certificate/Diploma/PG Diploma/PG Degree level program offered in conventional mode”.

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