The open and distance learning system in India has become an important way of educating the various sectors of society. In addition, the changing dynamics of the open- distance learning system have been encouraging in the past six decades. As has already been said, the temporal and spatial limits have disappeared. The impressive number of institutions for open distance learning in the country bears witness to this fact. Currently, 25% of higher education students in the country are registered in the open- distance learning system.
The open- distance learning system has seen a phenomenal increase in the expansion and diversification of higher education over the past six decades. From a single institution in 1962( Delhi University), there are approximately 250 open distance learning institutions, including central, state and private universities, as well as many independent institutions.
WHAT ARE OPEN UNIVERSITIES?
Open universities offers distance learning in India and are typically the single mode of open distance learning institutions offering distance learning and are established by a parliamentary act or a government legislature. This is because everyone can not pursue a regular education system. There may be different reasons for the same, like location, affordability, health problems, etc. Open universities are a blessing for these people. There are currently 14 open universities in India, including the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Dr. B.R Open University of Ambedkar, etc.
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SETTING AN OPEN UNIVERSITY
The establishment of a university in India is not an easy task; you must comply with many guidelines and standards. There is a minimum standard defined by the UGC, which means that you must comply with standards of instruction higher than the minimum. If you want to establish an open university, you must send a proposal to the Higher Education Department (Ministry of Human Resources Development). In order to submit a proposal, there must be a sponsoring body, the body that provides the capital for the creation of a university.
The proposal for the establishment of an Open University must be submitted by a sponsoring body which may be
- registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860( Central Act No. 21 of 1860);
- Any public trust registered under the State Public Trust Act or the Indian Trusts Act, 1882(( Central Act No. 2 of 1882) or in any other State or Union Territory under the relevant laws;
- Or any company registered under section 25 of the Companies Act, 2013.
The sponsoring body must submit a request together with a detailed proposal to the Department of Higher Education, together with an Rs 1, 00,000 demand draft in favour of the Higher Education Director. The request must consist of detailed proposal content and other required documents.
Content of the proposal
If the sponsoring body proposes to set up a university, certain guidelines must be complied with. While sending the proposal, certain documents, necessary for verification, must also be included.
- All details of the sponsoring body, including copies of its certificate of registration, constitution and other by- laws;
- the proposed name of the university must also include the location and headquarters of the proposed university;
- The goal and objectives of the proposed university, how it will improve the human resources, the welfare of the deprived, certain policies to help certain groups of society, for example. A minority institution whose objective is to promote education in its community, similarly, the objective of an open university can be to promote education among those people who cannot attend regular courses for any reason.
- Rationale for the need to set up the proposed university;
- Nature and the type of study, training and research programs proposed to be undertaken through open universities.
- For an open university, a sponsoring body or any of its members should have experience in distance / open / online, the education program should have been recognized by the Distance Education Council (DEC) for a minimum of 10 years. The land, infrastructure and other resources requirements may therefore be amended to reflect the nature of education imparted.
- Demonstration of ownership of land or land procurement plans.
- Capital expenditure outlays proposed and the source of financing for the next five years
- The Institute must also have approval from the respective statutory bodies for its academic programmes like All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India (MCI), bar council of India (BCI), national council for teacher’s education (NCTE), bar council of India (BCI), Indian nursing council, and distance education council.
Examination of proposal
On receipt of the proposal, the state government shall constitute an inspection committee. The proposal will be considered by the committee on the following grounds:-
- The established committee will check the financial soundness and assets of the sponsors.
- The background of the sponsoring body, which is its general reputation, i.e. its expertise and experience in education.
- The potential of the courses is whether courses can develop human resources in accordance with the requirements of contemporary demands.
- The committee shall prepare a report to the state government within two months of the date of the first meeting and the deficiencies observed during the examination shall be communicated to the sponsoring body and submit a report on the elimination of deficiencies.
Issue of letter of intent
- After the report has been submitted by the committee, if the state government is satisfied, it may issue a letter of intent within one month of the report being submitted by the committee and request that the sponsoring body:
- Establish an endowment fund for the university that is committed to the government and that can be increased from time to time by notification. The amount of the fund shall be: – 5 crores for single domain and 8 crores for multi domain.
- Give an undertaking not to dissolve the university within 15 years of its establishment and, if the university is dissolved within 15 years, all the assets of the university shall be vested with the government without any liabilities and free of all burdens.
Submission of compliance report
The sponsoring body must submit a compliance report together with an unambiguous affidavit, documents necessary to fulfil all the conditions specified in the letter of intent within a maximum period of two years. The sponsoring body shall have the provision to include any additional details during the period of two years following the issuance of the LOI and the submission of a compliance report. However, the State Government may extend the term of the letter of intent for 1 year if the sponsoring body submits such a request and the State Government is satisfied with the reason given by the sponsoring committee.
Enactment of law for private university
After receiving satisfactory recommendations from the inspection committee, the state government shall submit to the state legislature for approval a separate law for the particular university. When the Act is passed, the government issues a gazette notification. This notification will then be sent for information to the UGC and the MHRD. The sponsoring body will also need to apply to UGC for the inclusion of newly incorporated universities in the UGC list of authorized universities. The university will have to be assessed by NAAC within three years of its establishment and will also have to meet all other requirements, as applicable, laid down by the various statutory bodies.
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