4 central institutes top contenders to be ‘hub’ of new digital university

NEW DELHI: One of these four central universities – Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), Delhi University (DU), Benaras Hindu University (BHU) or Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) — are likely to be the hub from where National Digital University (NDU) will operate.
According to discussions underway at the ministry of education (MoE) and within the University Grants Commission (UGC), the new digital university will be implemented from 2023-24 academic session in “hub-and-spoke” model, whereby the degrees will be awarded by the NDU and sought after programmes of top universities’and colleges’ will be offered. The digital university will also run its own courses. The examinations and assessments for students enrolled in the digital university will be conducted in multiple formats.
On February 1, 2022 finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union budget proposed the setting up of a digital university to provide access to world-class quality universal education to students across the country with a personalised learning experience at their doorsteps. The university will be built on a networked hub-and-spoke model, with the hub building cutting-edge ICT expertise.
According to a senior official at the MoE, there has been discussions towards identifying the higher education institution which will act as the ‘hub’. “Right now the choice has been narrowed to four central universities — IIT-Madras, BHU, Ignou and DU. Further discussions later this month will be held to finalise. Each of these universities comes with their own strength such as the technical edge the IIT will provide in delivering the programmes or the experience of large operations for the likes of BHU or DU.”
The official said that the digital university is likely to be operational from the next academic year, which is 2023-24 and admissions are likely to commence from June 2023. “The admission criteria and other processes are yet to be decided,” said the official.
As per the plans underway, the digital university, apart from developing and delivering its own courses in due time, will start-off as an aggregator of courses being offered by some of the best universities and colleges. “However, to start things initially only those institutions running in physical mode but are already offering courses in online and digital mode will be part of the system and these are the spokes,” said the official.
Union education minister, Dharmendra Pradhan in September said that the government has started the process of setting up the digital university with multiple entry and exit frameworks along with the academic bank of credit to promote education and skill development.
With multiple entry and exit options, the university will provide learners right from certificate courses to postgraduate degrees. As stated in the National Education Policy 2020, appropriate bodies such as NTA and other identified bodies will design and implement assessment frameworks encompassing design of competencies, portfolio, rubrics, standardised assessments, and assessment analytics.

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