Over 23,000 higher education courses, including programmes on Artificial Intelligence, cyber security and early childhood care, will now be available free of cost on a new web portal, the University Grants Commission (UGC) said on Thursday. The portal, which aims at bridging the digital divide and enhance accessibility of higher education in remote parts of the country, will be launched on Friday as part of the second anniversary of the National Education Policy-2020.
The UGC has tied up with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to integrate the e-resources with their over 7.5 lakh Common Service Centres (CSC) and Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Centres to offer these courses from the forthcoming academic session of 2022-23. “As part of its efforts in making higher education accessible to all, the UGC has been constantly working in making digital resources available to students in English as well as regional languages,” UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar said.
The CSCs aim is to provide digital access and make e-governance services available to the citizens especially those who are living in the rural India at their doorstep. Nearly 2.5 lakh CSCs and SPVs are operating in Gram Panchayats and more than 5 lakh CSCs/SPVs centres are functional across the country.
“The CSCs and SPVs are being managed and operated by entrepreneurs who belong to the local community and referred to as village level entrepreneurs (VLEs). VLEs operate the centres to earn their living by delivering online services. These centres have computers and internet connectivity,” said Kumar. The courses include 23,000 postgraduate courses, 137 SWAYAM MOOC courses in emerging areas and 25 non-engineering SWAYAM courses. There are no charges for accessing these on the UGC portal.
“All courses are free. However, for availing the services and infrastructure of CSC/ SVP, a user has to pay a fee of Rs 20 per day or Rs 500 per month to reimburse the VLEs efforts and cost of their infrastructure,” said Kumar. “This is similar to other government projects like Ayushman Bharat Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, e-Shram, Pan Card, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana (PMSYM) and many others, Kumar added.