The University Grants Commission (UGC) has prohibited imparting distance degree programmes in agriculture.

The decision was taken by the higher education regulator at its last meeting on the ground that a degree programme in agriculture is technical in nature as it requires practicals or laboratory courses.

“The Union Agriculture Ministry had referred the matter to the Commission, requesting it to consider prohibiting universities from offering Open and Distance Learning (ODL) degree programmes in agriculture,” a senior commission official said.

As per UGC Open and Distance Learning Regulations, 2017, professional programmes such as medicine, engineering, architecture, nursing, dental, pharmacy and physiotherapy, are not permitted to be offered in distance mode.

“To protect the interest of the students already enrolled to the agriculture degree programme, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has been requested for hand-holding of such higher education institutions. However, no new enrolments will be permitted from the 2019 academic session,” the official said.

Nasik-based Yashwant Rao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU), Annamalai University, IGNOU, Kuvempu University and Nalanada Open University are among the institutions offering degree and diploma programmes in agriculture science.