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Open varsities urged to raise quality



New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) The open universities has been urged to enhance and promote the quality of open and distance learning programmes to attract young learners.

Addressing a gathering of the Vice-Chancellors and representatives of 14 state open universities here on Tuesday, Avichal Kapur, Joint Secretary, the University Grants Commission (UGC), said accreditation by institutions like the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was a continuous process and we must create a culture of continuous quality improvement.

"Let us create a system where a learner says the distance learning system is as good as the conventional education system," he said and urged open universities to prepare strategic plans to get accredited by the NAAC.

BK Bhadri of the Ministry of Human Resource Development stressed the importance of accreditation and assessment of open universities to achieve excellence in open and distance learning education.

"To achieve excellence, maintain standards and quality. For this purpose, the accreditation process is made mandatory for open universities," he said and added, open universities must go for accreditation as it would enhance and strengthen validation of university system.

Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU, stressed adherence to quality to make the degrees offered by the open universities equivalent to one offered by the conventional institutions. The open universities should also fulfil the mandatory criteria of getting accredited by the NAAC, Rao added.

Comparing the accreditation process to an examination paper, he said, it might suit some and not suit others. "We will organise training workshops. The NAAC is ready to listen to all of you and make all the changes that are feasible. We should prepare ourselves to get accredited and there will be a timeframe to adhere to it," he said.

He said the government was placing a lot of thrust on the open universities to increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER).

The discussions were part of the one-day meeting on ‘Mentoring Open Universities for Assessment and Accreditation’, organised by Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA).