Budget 2020: Top 100 institutions to offer full time online degree courses

Budget 2020: While a some institutions already offer online degree courses, the announcement comes as a major boost towards recognition of the key role online education can play in a country of India’s size and diversity.
**EDS: TV GRAB** New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha, in New Delhi, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020(PTI)
**EDS: TV GRAB** New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Union Budget 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha, in New Delhi, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020(PTI)
Updated on Feb 01, 2020 07:59 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAmandeep Shukla

New Delhi: India’s top 100 educational institutions will start offering full-fledged degree courses online, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget presentation on Saturday, in a boost to digital learning, and the doors are set to be opened for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the education sector.

India will also start conducting an Ind-SAT test to screen Asian and African students who will be eligible for scholarships to pursue educational programmes in India.

In her budget speech, Sitharaman sought to meet the expectations of an “aspirational India” by focussing on the employability of young graduates.

“By 2030, India is set to have the largest working-age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy but they need both job and life skills. Dialogues have been held with state education ministries, members of Parliament and other stakeholders about the education policy. Over 2 lakh suggestions were also received. The New Education Policy (NEP) will be announced soon,” Sitharaman said.

Significantly, one of the key elements of the draft NEP being discussed by the human resource development (HRD) ministry is allowing foreign universities to offer educational programmes in India.

In the budge,t Sitharaman paved way for greater inflow of foreign funds.

“It is felt that our education system needs greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs. Therefore steps would be taken to enable sourcing external commercial borrowings and FDI so as to able to deliver higher-quality education,” she said.

Sitharaman also said that students in the general stream, vis-à-vis services or technology streams, need improved employability to qualify for better jobs.

About 150 higher educational institutions will start apprenticeship-embedded degree or diploma courses by March 2021, she added. The government also proposes to start a programme whereby urban local bodies would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period of up to one year, she said.

To provide quality education to students of underprivileged sections, the government proposes to open the doors for degree-level, full-fledged online education programme. This shall be offered only by institutions who are ranked within the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking framework. Initially, only a few such institutions would be asked to offer such programmes, Sitharaman said.

While some universities already provide online degree programmes, the announcement will boost digital learning, which is key to enhancing the reach of higher education. Sitharaman also pointed out that more women were enrolled in higher education now than men.

Another key announcement was that under the “Study in India” programme, an Ind-SAT test will be conducted for Asian and African countries. It shall be used to benchmark candidates who receive scholarships to study in India.

Sharing details, Sitharaman said the government proposes to provide about Rs 99,300 crore for the education sector in 2020-21 and about Rs 3,000 crores for skill development.

Asked about the budget announcements, a senior HRD ministry official said a scheme was being prepared to attract FDI in line with the declaration.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi director, Prof V Ramagopal Rao, welcomed the move to encourage online programmes.Although undergraduate courses would continue to be taught the same way at the elite engineering schools, other courses like Master of Business Administration or Master of Arts programmes could be offered online, he said.

Dheeraj Sharma, director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Rohtak said the school already has a large number of programs that are taught purely online and others that are entail a combination of online and offline educational modes. “This is a welcome move and will facilitate degree granting to new applicants and new students to specific programs that are offered online and blended learning mode in various top-ranking institutions,” he said.

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