Indian universities will be able to offer full degree programmes online from the next academic year, the government has announced.
The University Grants Commission said that universities would be able to offer online certificate, diploma and degree programmes only in disciplines that they already offer through traditional face-to-face teaching or via distance learning and from which at least one cohort of students has graduated.
It said that programmes requiring practical or laboratory courses as a curricular requirement would not be offered online.
Online programmes would also need to offer a combination of video lectures, online materials, self-assessment and discussion forums, it added.
Only accredited universities that have been in existence for at least five years and featured in the top 100 of the national institutional ranking framework, the government’s university league table, for at least two years in the previous three years will be eligible to offer the degrees.
The UGC said that the new regulations, which will come into force from the 2018-19 academic year, were “a big step towards attaining the targeted GER [gross enrolment ratio] of 30 per cent by the year 2020”.
According to figures released earlier this year, 25.2 per cent of 18- to 23-year-olds in 2016-17 were enrolled in higher education.
Online degrees were banned in 2016 in response to a growing number of institutions providing online programmes that were not recognised by the UGC.