International students seeking admission in University Grants Commission (UGC) recognised/entitled online programmes through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will not have to produce passport as compulsory proof of identification.

"The Second Amendment Regulations, 2022 has changed the compulsory identifier 'passport' for international students to 'any national identity with photograph' of the country of residence for admissions through MEA in UGC recognised/entitled online programmes," said UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar.

This is an important amendment to the open and distance learning programmes and online programmes regulations to promote more and more international students to join Indian universities' online programmes recognised by the UGC, Kumar said.

MEA offers scholarships to African students under the e-VidyaBharati (tele-education) project. It aims to offer at least 15,000 scholarships to African students over a period of five years. The UGC recognised and entitled online programmes are offered on the e-VidyaBharati portal and the students are admitted through the MEA.

The MEA had observed that many applications get rejected due to either submission of expired passport or non-submission of passport.'Therefore, the MEA requested the UGC to consider 'any national identity with photograph' and be exempted from the mandatory requirement of passport in order to secure admission in Indian universities under the e-VidyaBharati (tele-education) project, officials said.

Kumar added that this amendment is expected to improve the number of enrolments of international students in online programmes through MEA.

However, the UGC also clarified that for all international students taking admission not through MEA in UGC recognised and entitled online Programmes, passport will continue to be the identifier.