P. Sreekumar of the Department of Dravidian & Computational Linguistics at the Dravidian University in Kuppam, AP, sent out an anguished email on the University Grants Commission (UGC) that has lifted a two-year ban on distance M Phil and Ph D courses.
The move comes after widespread protests by various universities. Many Open Learning Universities like IGNOU were protesting the ban on the ground that their respective laws, passed by Parliament or legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses.
Speaking on the development, IGNOU vice-chancellor Rajasekharan Pillai said, “We will follow the rules but our regulations are already stricter than those of the UGC.”UGC held a meeting on the issue last month, deciding to lift the ban. “An open university may be permitted to conduct MPhil/PhD programmes through distant education mode subject to condition that it does so strictly as per the provisions of the UGC Regulations,” said the minutes of the meeting.
Although, UGC has lifted the ban but it has put another condition for Phd — the principal guide should be from the open university. The UGC had clamped the bar by notifying a rule — the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation — in 2009 saying research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality.
The regulations had put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursuing such courses across the country.“There should not be any blanket ban on MPhil or PhD in distance mode. If institutions meet the required quality parameters, they should be allowed to offer such courses,” said academic M. Madhava Menon, who has been asked by the HRD ministry to draft a policy on distance education. He said he would submit his report next month.
Inadequate infrastructure of many open universities is also a concern for carrying out research work. A UGC official said the commission’s regulations were silent on the facilities, and a panel headed by academic S. P. Thyagrajan had been set up to suggest the requirements. “We will meet on September 15 to lay the guidelines,” Thyagrajan said.
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