A Critical Study of the Regulations and Policies in Open and Distance Learning
Distance learning makes education open to masses irrespective of age, sex, religi on, location, qualification and time, and provides opportunities for working people to combine education and work. It helps in developing education as a lifelong activity to enable persons to update their knowledge. Distance learning is in fact an old idea with a new name. Its foundation goes back to the early 1700s when students and instructors exchanged information through the postal system or other modes of communication. The main focus of distance education is to provide opportunities for higher education to a large segment of population, especially disadvantaged groups living in remote and rural areas, adults, housewives and working people. Limitations of the formal system of education had
attracted policy makers towards non-conventional modes of education when need for providing higher education to a large segment of population was
felt. Therefore, the policy makers, in order to ensure regulation of standards in higher education through distance mode, made it mandatory for all universities and institutions offering programmes through this mode, to get prior recognition/approval for offering programmes from designated authority, the erstwhile Distance Education Council (DEC).
As the regulatory and policy frameworks can have a major impact on the introduction of open and distance learning in India, the governments, regulatory bodies, institutions, professional bodies and other influential stakeholders need to review current regulatory frameworks and identify the areas of strengths and weaknesses in existing regulations and policies in relation to open and distance learning.
The main focus of the present study is to analyse the regulations and policies framed and implemented in relation to the regulation of standards of higher education through distance mode in India. For this purpose, the policies related to the establishment and recognition of distance learning system in India; regulation of standards of higher education through open and distance learning; research programmes, open & blended learning and professional programmes; and the evaluation of programmes offered through open and distance learning system in India have been selected for the present study. The present study shows that regulatory bodies deny the existence of open and distance education system in India because all the policies and regulations are framed keeping in view the modus operandi of the conventional system of education.