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Enrolment in online courses up by 179% from last year’s tally, says UGC chairman

M. Jagadesh Kumar said over 72,000 students are enrolled in 371 online programmes offered by 4 central, 20 state, 12 private and 30 deemed-to-be universities across India.

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New Delhi: More than 72,000 students — including both Indians and foreign citizens — are currently enrolled in various online programmes being offered by universities in India. This is a 179 per cent jump from last year’s tally of nearly 25,905 students, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar informed Friday.

The number of students registered for open and distance learning courses has also surged from over 14 lakh in 2020-21 to over 20 lakh in 2021-22, he added.

Sharing the data on online enrolment, Kumar said that as of October this year, 66 institutions across the country including central, state and private universities, are recognised/entitled to offer online programmes.

The UGC chairman went further to add that the numbers will pick up once the central government frames rules for National Digital University, an initiative which was introduced in the Union Budget earlier this year. A digital university operates like a real brick-and-mortar university but in a virtual space, which means students will be able to choose the subjects they want to study, attend classes and get a degree  — all in the online space.

“Online programmes provide a window of opportunity to many students who are unable to join physically in a college or university. There is a steady increase in the number of enrolments in online programmes. However, this will pick up further once we announce the National Digital University together with flexible online education regulations,” Kumar said.

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179% increase in enrolment

According to the data, 25,905 students were enrolled in online programmes offered by universities across India in 2020-21. This number jumped to 72,400 in 2021-22, registering a record increase of 179 per cent.

Of the total enrolment in 2021-22, the maximum number of students (36,860) are enrolled in Deemed-to-be Universities.

At present, 4 central universities, 20 state universities, 30 Deemed to be universities and 12 private universities are offering a total of 371 online programmes.

Data on the course-wise enrolment shows, at the undergraduate level, the most number of students (13,062) are enrolled in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) courses, followed by 4,991 in Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA). At the postgraduate level, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) saw the most enrolments with 28,236 students, followed by the Master of Computer Applications (MCA) with 5,365 students.

For open and distance learning programmes, enrolment went up from 14,38,101 students in 2020-21 to 20,37,676 in the year 2021-22, registering a jump of nearly 42 per cent.

Kumar added that an increase in enrolment for both online and open and distance learning courses is good news because it will “enable students to become more employable in the emerging job market and has the added advantage of increasing the gross enrolment ratio”.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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