The UGC has yet again been the center of protests after it announced its recent circle that directed the distance education institutes to confine the exam centers within their home state. The regulatory body has faced resistance on the matter from education experts and activists. As per experts, the circular hampers the motive of spreading education.
The UGC, on the other hand, says that Institutions, Universities or Institutions estimated to be universities conducting exams for their open and distance learning courses is illegal and is not within their territorial jurisdiction.
According to the circular, all institutions are bound to follow the ODL norms and territorial jurisdiction concerning all academic activities as well as setting up exam centers. Students and parents are also advised to ascertain all the norms before taking admissions for all such courses.
Swati Mujumdar, Director, Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning said that restricting the exam centers will cage the philosophy of distance education and will cause inopportuneness to the enrolled students.
She added that territorial jurisdiction must be applied to study centers and not exam centers and that the exam centers can be kept under surveillance to prevent them from becoming study centers but the idea should not be banned completely.
Ravi Bharadwaj, an educational activist questioned the circular and the asked that does the decision mean that students enrolled in a university belonging to distant states will have to travel all the way to appear for examination?
He also said that this will limit the education options of students as everyone can’t afford traveling long distances for the sake of exam. He even questioned if the board was trying to create a domination or geographical restriction in the educational domain?
In the light of recent events the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s (SPPU) distance education program have been delayed further.
The university has been trying to set up a distance education center since 2015 but due to delay on the part of UGC regarding the proposal, the program has been put on hold. As per the Vice-Chancellor of the university, WN Gade, the crux of the problem is the rigidity in education.
He also said that reforms need to be made in the education sector and that it must be made more accessible. He also stressed the fact that unless the educators, academicians and policymakers don't raise their voices against unnecessary rules, the education system of the nation will remain crippled. He also said that when Ph.D. entrance exams can be conducted in other countries for foreign students, then what’s so wrong with distance learning courses exams in different states for aspiring students?