Trichy: Having bagged A+ grade from NAAC in the third cycle and become eligible to offer open and distance learning (ODL) programmes, Bharathidasan University (BDU) has now set its eyes on strengthening the distance education study centres across the state. As ODL programmes are a primary revenue source for the university, it is planning to increase the number of study centres to 200 from next academic year. Besides, it may introduce a calendar year apart from the ongoing academic year calendar for the ODL courses. There had been an uncertainty over the status of ODL programmes offered by the university over the past two years after UGC declared that institutions with A+ grade in NAAC accreditation are only eligible for the same. This left many institutes, including BDU which had scored 3.16 in the second cycle, unfit to run ODL programmes. This is because they did not have a minimum NAAC score of 3.26 on the 4-point scale
“We had approached the distance education bureau of UGC seeking recognition for ODL programmes in 2018 but were denied permission. We took up the NAAC assessment in the third cycle and won the eligibility,” vicechancellor P Manisankar said. Registrar Gopinath Ganapathy said that the present strength of candidates on ODL mode was 11,400 and the number had dipped from 28,000 over the past one decade. “We are planning to increase the total number of study centres to over 200 by next academic year end across the state. The number stands at 132, of which 26 were recently approved by the university, he said. “As the popularity dipped for its ODL programmes, the varsity has plunged into a financial struggle. Despite in crisis for the past few years, BDU has been unlucky to be denied the state’s block grant of Rs 19.64 crore because it was generating revenue nearly five times higher than the grant. It was only last year that the state sanctioned the block grant,” a senior BDU faculty said.