Education not a business, cannot allow edutech to offer unregulated courses: AICTE

AICTE secretary said that the course content offered by edutech companies has not been vetted for standard nor verified.

Education not a business, cannot allow edutech to offer unregulated courses: AICTE AICTE said that “a franchise arrangement” between recognised institutions and unregulated Edu-tech companies is not permissible (Picture source: Shutterstock)
R. Radhika | Jan 18, 2022 - 1:44 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: As the education technology (ed-tech) industry witnesses a boom amid the pandemic, higher education regulators University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are keeping a close eye on courses offered in online and distance education mode.

On Monday, the regulators warned institutions against offering courses in distance learning and online mode in partnership with ed-tech companies in response to advertisements. AICTE member secretary Rajive Kumar said that “a franchise arrangement” between recognised institutions and unregulated Edu-tech companies is not permissible.

“We have received inquiries about the various degrees offered by the edu-tech companies. We have also seen these advertisements. These courses that these edu-tech companies claim to offer have not been vetted for standard nor their content has been verified. Based on this content, if someone is getting a degree then the regulators have some responsibility,” said Kumar.

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‘Misleading advertisements’

The notice from AICTE pointed out that edu-tech companies are using newspapers, television, or social media to advertise MBA, MCA, and other degree and diploma courses in conventional, open distance learning, or entirely online mode in association with AICTE, UGC-approved institutes. The concern, however, is the misleading nature of these advertisements, said Kumar.

“On our own, we are permitting 40 percent of courses through MOOCs. But some of the universities, especially private universities, have given all of their courses to ed-tech companies, and these companies are selling these courses as their own and advertising them as so. This is not permissible,” Kumar explained.

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In March last year, the UGC increased the online learning component in higher education and allowed institutions to offer up to 40 percent of courses per semester through online mode. Earlier only 20 percent of the course was delivered online.

Edu-Tech regulation

According to Kumar, the collaboration between ed-tech and recognised institutes must be regulated and proper policy governing this could help in safeguarding students’ interests.

“We must understand that the educational sector is not meant for profit-making. These companies do not fall under section 8 [of the new Companies Act, 2013], or charitable trust, etc which are profit-making entities. If they continue to sell education degrees, it will not be allowed,” said Kumar.

The regulators have also advised students and parents to check the recognition status of any program on their websites before enrolling in any course.

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On January 3, the education ministry had flagged off the National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) 3.0, a public-private partnership between the government and education technology companies in India. The initiative is managed by AICTE. During its launch, education minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said that a common policy will be formulated to regulate these companies.


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