The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday issued new guidelines to reopen universities and colleges after a nearly seven-month lockdown in institutions for higher education across the country.

However, no institution should have attendance of more than 50 per cent of students. Online classes will continue for all programmes except science, technology and research.

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said, “The Ministry of Education is ready to meet these new challenges. The UGC has formulated new guidelines for reopening of its premises keeping in view all options and alternatives. These guidelines have also been approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

According to the new guidelines, students can prefer to stay at home and continue with online classes. A limited number of hostels can be opened. More than one student cannot be allowed to stay in a hostel room.

Before reopening any educational complex, it should be ensured that the concerned central or state government has declared that area safe for opening educational institutions.

In view of the spread of Covid-19, state and union territory governments have been consulted on opening of universities and colleges outside containment zones. Educational institutions across the country can be opened in a systematic manner after consultation with the state, Union Territory governments. It will be mandatory to adhere to UGC guidelines for re-opening educational institutions.

The head of central-funded higher education institutions will have to be satisfied before the reopening. All heads of institutions have been given the freedom to take decisions on re-opening of classes.

Classes will be conducted in all higher educational institutions as per the decision of states and Union Territories. These include state universities, private universities, deemed universities and colleges.

It will be mandatory to maintain social distancing and wear masks. Universities and colleges can open campuses in a phased manner using a variety of protective measures. This includes administrative offices, research laboratories and libraries, etc.

Necessary steps have been taken for research students. Postgraduate students can participate in science technology and research courses. Since the number of people involved in research is comparatively low, social distancing and preventive measures can be easily implemented in these institutions.

Since education is directly related to employment, final year students can also be allowed to join the classes with due permission of the head of the institute.

Institutions can evolve a plan for international students who have not been able to attend courses due to international travel ban or visa problems.

With IANS inputs