Nasik-based Yashwant Rao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) can no more offer degree programmes in agriculture.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to prohibit the YCMOU, India's fifth open university set up in 1989, from offering the programme in open and distance learning (ODL) mode from 2019-20 academic session.
The decision was taken by the higher education regulator at its last meeting on the ground that a degree programme in agriculture is technical in nature as it requires practicals or laboratory courses.
The Union agriculture ministry had referred the matter to the commission, requesting it to consider prohibiting the YCMOU from offering ODL degree programmes in agriculture.
“The UGC regulations, notified in 2018, also clearly stipulate that degree courses which require practicals cannot be offered in ODL mode”, official sources in the commission said.
The YCMOU was offering the degree programme with the approval of the regulator in past.
“The commission will write to the concerned higher education institution that the recognition for agricultural programs in ODL mode is only for the academic year 2018-19,” official sources said
The UGC will also issue a directive to the open university asking it not to enroll students “in any of the agricultural programs” in the ODL mode from 2019-20 academic session, beginning July 2019, they said.
The commission's decision will be applicable to all higher education institutions.
“There are few more institutions in different parts of the country offering agriculture degree in ODL mode. A public notice mentioning the disciplines prohibited in the ODL mode will soon be issued,” they added.
To protect the interest of the students already enrolled to the agriculture degree programme, sources said, the UGC has decided to request the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) for handholding of such higher education institutions.
“They will be requested to explore the feasibility of setting up of learner support centres at the nearest agricultural university or Krishi Vigyan Kendras where proper facilities for practical and hands-on training can be provided to the students,” sources added.