India: UGC Regulations for Online Courses

November 19, 2018


The digitalization in the modern era has been responsible for providing various services on the cyber world. The most important asset of the virtual space is the transmission of information using the services of internet. The educational domain has also taken recourse to the electronic platforms for dissemination of knowledge. Breaking the traditional system of education, online courses are gaining popularity which offer flexibility and convenience to complete the syllabus. It is also cost effective and helps avoiding commutation for examination and other purposes.

University Grants Commission

The University Grants Commission of India (hereinafter referred to as the “UGC”) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union Government in accordance to the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the “UGC Act”) for the co-ordination and determination of ethics in Universities in India. UGC monitors the norms for the educational institutions imparting higher education system in the country.

Online Courses Regulations

With a view to ensure proper conduct of knowledge through online media, the UGC enforced the UGC (Online Courses or Programmes) Regulations, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “Online Course Regulations”) on July 4, 2018 laying down the minimum standards of instruction for the grant of Certificate or Diploma or Degree, through online mode, delivered through interactive technology using internet. Some of the features of the Online Course Regulation are listed below:

  • Applicability: The provisions of the Online Course Regulations are applicable to Universities established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act/ State Act or an Educational Institution deemed to be University which are UGC recognized provided that the same provides higher education or research therein by means of conducting regular classes or through Open and Distance Learning systems or through online education system. [Rule 2 Online Course Regulations]
  • Online Courses not permissible: Courses or Programmes in engineering, law, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy, applied arts and such other Courses or Programmes are not permitted to be offered through online. [Rule 2 Online Course Regulations]
  • Eligible educational institutions: The following institutions are eligible to commence online courses [Rule 4 Online Course Regulations]:
    • should have been in existence for at least five years;
    • should be accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council with minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale; and
    • should be in the Top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework for at least two years during the previous three years:
  • Compliances: An Educational Institution should have the demonstrated capability for developing and production of Online Courses or Programmes by in-house faculty for designing courses, with the technology for production, with ability to conduct examinations ascertaining their credibility and having access to Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds system (also referred to as “SWAYAM”) in order to cater the requirements of learner authentication, learner registration, payment gateway, learning management system [Rule 4 Online Course Regulations]
  • Application: Online Course Regulations provides for the procedure for application to offer Online Courses or Programmes and approval in the said regard. [Rule 5 & 6 Online Course Regulations]
  • Quality Assurance: The Educational Institutions offering a Course or Programme in online mode shall take steps to ensure quality offered are maintained on a par with the prescribed standards, adequate measures for training and capacity building and are in accordance to the requisite guidelines. [Rule 9 Online Course Regulations]

In order to provide a legal framework governing the conduct of online courses and programmes being offered by Higher Educational Institutions, the UGC has introduced the Online Course Regulations.

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