Four Indian varsities come together to launch ‘virtual university’ on European model


By NewsGram Staff Writer

Four Indian varsities will launch the project ‘EQUAL’ by the beginning of next year to offer a new concept of ‘online education’ to the Indian students.

The project EQUAL (Enhancing Quality, Access and Governance of Higher Education in India) will be a boon for the poor students who are long deprived from getting the taste of education, said a minister.

As per an official, the project will offer a blended learning platform (online plus face-to-face) for undergraduate students in India.

The four participating universities are, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, Ambedkar University, Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Shiv Nadar University in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

“For India, the solution can’t be purely classroom nor purely online. It has to be a mix of both. Through EQUAL, students will have the desired mobility. We are planning to launch pilot courses by the end of this year or beginning of next year,” said Supriya Chaudhuri, faculty coordinator and project member from Jadavpur University.

“In addition, since it will be adopted by Indian varsities and colleges as part of their curriculum, it will not have the drawbacks of MOOCs — low completion rates and inadequate certification,” she said, adding the courses, designed in the Moodle software, will be free.

The project is funded by the European Union under its programme ‘Support to Indo-European Interactions in Higher Education,’ and the initiative is supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The administrative support is being provided by the British Council India’s division for Internationalising Higher Education.

The four Indian universities are working in collaboration with King’s College London and the University of Bologna, Italy.

The project mainly focused on four interdisciplinary areas-natural resources, environment and sustainable technology, human ecology, cultural studies and critical thinking.

“We urge universities and colleges to adopt this system so that students can have access to the best lectures and courses across India,” said Sugata Hazra, another project coordinator from Jadavpur University.

The university is hosting the project website and creating the e-learning platform to run online courses through virtual classrooms.

“The aim is to create partnerships between Europe and India, and between Indian universities, adapting the ‘Bologna Process’ to the Indian context,” said a professor of Jadavpur University.