Ed-techs in trouble as UGC discredits their online PhD programme with foreign varsities | The Financial Express

Ed-techs in trouble as UGC discredits their online PhD programme with foreign varsities

Higher education institutes are not allowed to offer courses in distance learning and online mode in association with ed-tech companies, UGC guidelines states.

Ed-techs in trouble as UGC discredits their online PhD programme with foreign varsities
PhD programme in online mode violates UGC Regulations 2016.

In what appears to be a massive blow to the ed-tech companies, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), has discredited their online PhD programmes offered in collaboration with foreign varsities. The move is said to adversely impact major ed-tech players such as Upgrad, among others. “This will surely bring down the revenue earned by ed-tech firms,” Dipak Jha, CEO, Gurusiksha.com, said. 

The move comes amid the Central government’s caution to ed-tech companies against unfair trade practices. The government is believed to be working on a regulatory framework for ed-tech platforms, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, had announced during an online AICTE event in January, 2022. “The policy is still under deliberation,” said sources close to the development.

Online education emerged as an alternative amid the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to hold prominence both in the industry as well as among learners due to the flexibility it offers. Furthermore, degrees such as PhD have also come under its wing. “There cannot be shortcuts to PhD, it’s not a cup of tea. Institutes need to follow a proper procedure to award such degrees otherwise it loses its authenticity and value,” Prabudhha Ananda, associate professor, Delhi University, said, adding that some ed-techs’ bullish approach towards making profit at all cost has led to deterioration in  the quality of education. 

Moreover, Indian higher education regulators have raised serious objections to this. According to the UGC and AICTE notification, providing a PhD programme in online mode compromises the standard and procedure of awarding such degrees. It violates UGC’s Degrees Regulation ACT 2016.  The regulatory body has warned students not to fall prey to advertisements promising online PhD programmes offered by ed-tech companies in collaboration with foreign educational institutions. According to it such online PhD programmes are not recognised by the UGC. “The onus lied on Indian ed-techs and foreign university collaborators to establish a strict quality control criteria and the rigor that is required for a Doctorate programme,” Anubhi Prakash, GatewayAbroad, explained. 

As per the UGC guidelines, all its higher education institutes are not allowed to offer courses in distance learning and online mode in association with ed-tech companies. Further, even though the new education policy allows one to pursue two academic degrees simultaneously, the option does not stand for PhD candidates. Students from all other courses such as undergraduate, postgraduate or diploma programmes can pursue two degrees either online or offline. 

Also Read: Private ed-tech – A revolution in education

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First published on: 31-10-2022 at 08:00 IST