Top category deemed -to-be-universities would not require any prior approval of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to start offering degree, diploma and certificate programmes in open and distance learning (ODL) mode in management, computer applications, travel and tourism.

The technical education regulator has decided to exempt such institutions from the mandatory requirement of seeking its prior approval to start OLD programmes. The move is aimed at giving a push to the ODL mode of education, by easing the procedure of granting approval to top-rated institutions, with the government keen on increasing the gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education to 40% by 2024 from the current 26.3%.

The remaining deemed -to-be-universities will have to seek the AICTE’s approval for starting ODL programmes in management, computer applications, travel and tourism. Based on the AICTE’s recommendations, the UGC will take a final decision on their proposals.

An official notification of the decision, taken by the executive committee of the AICTE at its recent meeting presided over by the Council’s chief Anil Shahasrabudhe, is expected to come soon, sources said.

Deemed-to-be-universities which would fall in category-1 institutions would get an exemption from the mandatory requirement of obtaining prior approval of the AICTE for starting MBA, MCA, diploma/degree in travel and tourism courses in ODL mode.

Deemed-to-be-universities, which have been accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a score of 3.51 and above or have figured in the list of top 500 world universities in international rating, can have greater autonomy under category-I institutions, according to UGC regulations.

Though the AICTE has decided to relax rules for top-rated deemed-to-be-universities for starting ODL programmes, they will have to submit an affidavit undertaking that they will follow the norms and standards set by the council and the UGC for offering such courses.

Conduct of courses in engineering, pharmacy, architecture, hotel management, applied arts, crafts and design in ODL mode will continue to remain prohibited for all higher education institutions, the sources clarified.