The government has decided to allow top 15% of the higher educational institutions to offer degree programmes online in various non-technical disciplines to increase the gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education from the current 25.2% to at least 30% by 2022.
The Ministry of Human Resource (HRD) Development has formulated draft regulations for this which will soon be given a final shape and notified.
"Institutions with A+ or A++ NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) grade will be able to offer complete online degree programmes in various non-technical disciplines. They will offer degree, diploma and other certificate programmes online. Now we are having regulations at final stage of preparation," Union minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The Union minister was addressing a press conference after the meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education concluded on Tuesday.
"Top 15% institutions, which have secured 3.26 and above score in NAAC grading (A+ or A++) will get permission," he said.
Institutions will have to make "separate provisions" for staff and faculty to conduct the online courses, he added.
Under the Swayam, a massive open and online course (Moocs) platform operationalised by the Centre last year, students of the universities and other higher educational institutions can complete 20% of their degree, diploma and certificate programmes across all disciplines, including engineering.
"The proposal to allow higher educational institutions conduct online degree programmes is different from the Swayam. Under the new plan, institutions will be able to offer 100% degree courses in open and online mode only in non-technical disciplines, instead of just 20% of the course as is the case with Swayam," the minister clarified.
The minister said that regulations to be notified for the online degree courses will provide for a "foolproof mechanism" to assess the performance of the students.
"Proctored examinations will be held for every semester," a senior official of the ministry added.
Issue of the regional disparities in the available higher educational institutions was discussed at length at the CABE meeting and it was decided that both the Central and the state governments, where GER is very low, will work out perspective plans to set up new colleges to meet the demand.
Bihar and West Bengal are among some of the sates where number of colleges are not incommensurate with the students' population and GER is also far lower than the national average.