To transform conventional education framework of the country, central government is going to establish a Digital University in different Indian languages and ICT formats. An announcement to this effect, had been made in this year’s budget. This university will be a solution to many a problems like shortage of seats in university system, lack of quality education and teachers. With the Prime Minister Narendra Modi being very ambitious about this project, the university is expected to come up by August 2022, democratising education in a country where divides are galore. In present college education system, there is always severe shortage of seats in good institutions, forcing scores of students end up with little or insignificant choices.

In a webinar organised to discuss the modalities of this university, the PM asked all the stakeholders to speed up the process of setting up the university, which aims at making the higher education accessible for all. The students will also be able to study their desired courses. Normally, universities and colleges have limited seats for courses. This problem will be gone once this university comes into existence.

Majority of the colleges and universities in the country are also facing shortage of faculties, especially good faculties and this is the reason why majority of the students flock towards top institutions, resulting in the cut off marks/percentage going up every year. With this digital institution coming into being, now unlimited number of students would be attending the same class taken by the top teachers of the country/abroad.

Decreasing digital divide and increasing digital connectivity are going to give a big boost to this dream of the Prime Minister. This initiative will also ensure inclusivity as the students belonging to lower strata of the society; normally find it hard to make it to the top institutions because of the lack of access.

Measures like e-Vidya, One Class One Channel, digital labs, digital universities will create an educational infrastructure, which will provide better education solutions to the students living in villages and small towns, and belonging to poor socio-economic and educational set up.

Hence, the PM called upon all stake holders including Education Ministry, UGC and AICTE to work with speed on the project, keeping in mind international standards. Evaluation will be done via online proctored exam or computer based test by National Testing Agency. There would be no difference between online and conventional degrees when it comes to recognition. New regulations for online programmes will be notified in March this year.

Students enrolled in the digital programmes, will have digital access to library resources. Course curriculum, structure and learning outcome for online programmes will be same as conventional programmes. Digital university will ensure universalization of quality education, skill development, inclusion of India’s ancient experience and knowledge.

Come 2022-23 academic session, students who don’t get their desired college due to high cut offs, need not be disappointed. That’s because in addition to universities, nearly 900 autonomous colleges across the country, will also be able to offer courses remotely from July onwards as the government opens up the online education sector in a major reform to achieve 50% gross enrolment ratio by 2035 in alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Currently, only universities are allowed to offer online courses.

Participating in the webinar, the UGC chairman, Jagadesh Kumar said the UGC is planning to remove the restrictions of just 13 online degree courses for universities. Educational institutions falling in the entitled category, will soon be allowed to offer unlimited online courses. The UGC chairman also made it clear that there wouldn’t be any job loss for teachers because of the increased focus on online teaching.

Presently, owing to the shortage of infrastructure, only 2.7% colleges run PhD programme and just 35.04% colleges run PG level programmes. The new system of digital education is sure to bring about a transformation in these numbers, making education system truly democratic to all irrespective of social and economic privileges or divides.