Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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Online Degree Programs In India To Immensely Benefit Higher Education System

The Modi-Government has approved Online Degree Programs in India. Now, universities in India will be able to offer online degree programs in almost all courses a move which is speculated to reform the education system in the country.

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The approval of Online Degree Programs in India is a big blow U.S.-based online education service companies where courses like Business had become immensely popular.

Earlier, Indian universities were not allowed to offer more than 20 per cent of a degree courses online, this is because of concerns about quality and limited mechanisms for oversight and regulation.

Now, as part of a push to broaden the extent to access higher education and raise the profile of Indian institutions internationally, restrictions on online courses are starting to lift by the Modi government.

The news is a welcoming one for U.S.-based online education platforms. Massive open online degree courses education providers Coursera and edX both say they hope to increase their current presence in India and partner more deeply with degree colleges in India.

The government’s advance to online learning is still very careful. It is only the top 100 institutions in India’s National Institutional Ranking Framework that can apply to offer completely online degrees courses and the subject offered is constrained. As of now, there will be no online degree courses in medical or law fields from the country’s universities.

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At the launch of India’s 2020-21 budget last month, Nirmala Sitharaman the Finance Minister pressed on the necessity to make India’s young people more employable through better higher education prospects.

“By 2030, India is set to have the largest working-age population in the world. Not only do they need literacy, they need both job and life skills,” Sitharaman said. The government is presently working on a new national education policy, which the finance minister said would be published soon.

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Sitharaman recognized that foreign investment in India’s education sector is required to “attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.”

As of now, around 25 per cent of students graduating from high school in India go for higher education. The Indian government wants that figure to reach 50 per cent by 2035 that means doubling the nation’s college and university enrolment from its existing base.

The country has thousands of colleges and universities, but not every campus has the facilities or capitals to house a 50 per cent rise in students over the next 15 years.

With limited financial support to build new accommodations or open new universities, enrolling students online seems a reasonable solution to boost capacity. However, few institutes have staff who are experienced enough in launching online degree courses in India, and that has education service providers eyeing the subcontinent’s educational area enthusiastically.

“It’s a high-focus market for us,” said Raghav Gupta, managing director of India and the Asia-Pacific region for Coursera. “We’re thinking about how we can serve the market better. We see online education in India as a large opportunity.”

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Discussions about letting universities offer online degrees courses in India began a few years ago, but the progress made has been rather slow. Only last month, seven universities were approved to offer online degree courses. Gupta described these universities as “early movers” in the online education space.

Allowing universities to offer online degree courses is a noteworthy announcement, as it will lead to “true democratization of higher education in India,” said Amit Goyal, country head of India and Southeast Asia for edX.

Fully online degree programs can upsurge enrolments and completion, while at the same time reduce barriers to entry, Goyal said. Both Gupta and Goyal forecast that online degree courses will likely be offered at a lower cost than face-to-face programs and will probably appeal to working adults who don’t have the time to pursue a traditional on-campus degree. An online Indian degree could also be attractive to students in South Asia, Africa or the Middle East, Gupta predicted.

Presently most degree courses in India are obtainable through a single institution for over two to four years. Goyal thinks the space could become a lot more flexible, with students taking courses for credit from multiple institutions around the world.

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This model will stimulate global partnerships, but a key trial that will continue to face education providers will be producing job-ready graduates, he expressed.

Both Coursera and edX are already reaching millions of students in India. Coursera presently is offering courses from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and the Indian School of Business. However, many more institutions are looking to move online, Gupta said.

Originally Penned By Lindsay McKenzie. Edited By Alisha Upadhyay

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