UGC bans distance learning in Physiotherapy
PRACTICAL TRAINING A MUST
Physiotherapy courses — a major component of which is practical training and hands-on experience — will no longer be conducted through the distant mode of education. University Grants Commission (UGC) in May banned all such professional programmes offered through the open and distance learning (ODL) mode.
The directive followed after Delhi high court in April 2010 ruled that correspondence/distance education programmes in physiotherapy should not be conducted by the said institutions (against whom a case was filed by the Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP) in 2004) except with prior consent of the approved statutory bodies.
On May 14, deputy secretary, UGC, V K Jaiswal, wrote to the registrar of Amity University, Noida, that ‘‘Further, Delhi high court in the matter IAP vs Union of India and others and vide orders dated January 3, 2007 prima facie opined that a professional course must also impart practical training and, therefore professional courses should not be allowed to be imparted through the distance education system. Accordingly, UGC has decided that courses in physiotherapy at any level should not be conducted through distance education mode.’’
Speaking to TOI, general secretary of IAP, Dr Sanjiv Jha said that IAP filed the case primarily against three ‘erring’ universities — Allahabad Agricultural University, Allahabad, Janardan Rai Nagar University, Udaipur and Sikkim Manipal University, Sikkim — in 2004. ‘‘In the US and UK such courses have very stringent norms. But institutes in India have started offering these without any approval and through distance mode thereby diluting the standards. As it concerns the health of millions of people, IAP decided to move court against such practices,’’ said Jha.
At present, India has around 26,000 practicing physiotherapists. Although the HC order was specific to three universities against whom the case was filed, UGC issued a blanket ban on such courses through the OLD mode. Chairman of Distance Education Council (DEC), V N Rajasekharan Pillai, said: ‘‘The court order and UGC’s directives are on the line similar to ours. We have made our stand clear that any institution wishing to offer such programmes must first get the approval of their respective council before approaching DEC for approval.’’
UGC chairman Sukhadeo Thorat said: ‘‘Such courses have a major practical component and need hands-on experience. Therefore, distance mode is not the right platform for these.’’