If statistics by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is any thing to go by, then distance education is the fastest growing mode of higher education in the country.
Ironically though, with “about 40 per cent of students enrolled in higher education, in the distance education mode,” this kind of education is still a distant dream for many who find the cost of distant learning prohibitive, not just in terms of fees but also in the frequent delays of lectures and requisite course reaching the students on time.
And this is what the Human Resource Ministry has set about to amend through a legislation which will regulate distance education centres and online courses being offered by many universities, including foreign institutions.
The need to regulate distance education or correspondence courses was felt after the Supreme Court in 2005 disallowed off-shore campuses of the Deemed Universities operating from Chattisgarh. The court had observed that many of the teaching centres of the distance education schools were charging exorbitant fees from the students. It asked the government to look into the issue.
“We are just bringing a model Bill for the state governments and the Distance Education Council under the ambit of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to follow,” a senior ministry official told HT.
The bill has been drafted and is being examined by experts in the related fields. “We expect the bill to be ready for Cabinet consideration in a couple of months,” he said. The UGC has already taken a step to improve quality of distance education. In August this year, a circular was issued to all the Deemed Universities saying they needed approval to run such courses.