Open and distance modes of learning are quite similar but there is a significant difference between these correspondence courses. In the open learning module, candidates are allowed to take admission in any courses without any age limit. Meanwhile, distance learning is a form of open learning where candidates can pursue a desired course without any classroom presence.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Jadavpur University professor Santwan Chattopadhyay commented that open courses are a viable option for candidates who had to drop out of mainstream education. “As admission in open institutions does not require any age-related eligibility criteria, students who discontinued their studies can continue further.”
Recently, a 93-year-old grandfather completed a Master’s level degree through IGNOU which could only have been possible through the open mode. While this gives a second chance to candidates despite a long break, the value of the open degree programme is often questioned.
“The degrees granted through the open mode is also valued, if the candidates has the required skills,” remarked Chattopadhyay. However, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Vice Chancellor believes the open mode is preferred among the two by employers.
Practical facility makes the difference
V-C Tankeshwar Kumar said, “Though both the form of education, open and distance are quite similar, but in open education, students get lab facilities and so they are preferred in professional field. The distance mode candidates do not have any access to lab facilities, and are comparatively less preferred in jobs.”
The Supreme Court in 2017, however, ruled that technical education cannot be pursued in distance mode or open mode. The SC suspended all engineering degrees obtained between 2001 and 2005 through correspondence courses.
Following the apex court order, the University Grants Commission (UGC) suspended all engineering degrees offered in distance mode by JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Allahabad Agricultural Institute (AAI), Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (IASE), Rajasthan and Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu.
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The list of degree courses not allowed to be imparted through distance mode include engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture, physiotherapy and agriculture.
At present, there are 14 government run open universities in India. The varsities are Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University Hyderabad, Vardhman Mahaveer Open University, Kota, Nalanda Open University, Patna, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik, Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad, Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata, U.P. Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Allahabad, Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU), Chennai, Sunderlal Sharma Open University (PSSOU), Bilaspur, Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani, Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University, Guwahati.
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