Top 100 educational institutions to offer online degrees
On Saturday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that top 100 educational institutions of the nation will offer full-fledged online degree programs.

"Degree level full-fledged online education programme will be started to provide quality education to students of deprived sections of the society as well as those who do not have access to higher education. However, these shall be offered only by institutions who are ranked within top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)," the Finance Minister said in her Budget speech.

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said that the move will increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio.

"I appreciate the announcement of introduction of degree level online education programme. Through this, GER will be increased and education will be accessible to all sections of the society," Mr Nishank told reporters.

In this regard, the University Grants Commission has already draft the UGC (Online Courses) Regulations, 2018.

According to the UGC norms, the higher educational institutions will be eligible for offering online courses only if they have been in existence for more than five years and are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale.

The institutions should also be in a top 100 category in the NIRF rankings. "Online programmes requiring practical and laboratory courses as a curricular requirement shall not be permitted. The examinations shall be conducted in proctored mode and in conformity with any norms for such examinations stipulated by the commission," according to UGC regulations.

For the year 2019-20 UGC has granted recognition to seven institutions offer degree, diploma and certificates in online mode. The institutes include SS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune, Dr DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy, Thanjavur and Amity University, Noida.

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