Distance learning programmes score over a regular degree in many aspects. “Besides flexible study timings, a student gets access to exhaustive study material that is easy to understand. Those who need an extra qualification to boost their job prospects should opt for it,” says Komiti Gouri, a civil engineering graduate from Ignou.
Added qualifications can only brighten your job prospects, says Lisa Gupta, who has done an off-campus MBA programme in finance from Sikkim Manipal University. “The MBA programme in finance helped me immensely as it broadened my horizons and I managed to get a government job,” says Gupta, who is now working with the State Bank of India in Hoshiarpur. Gupta, however, says finding a job may be difficult in some cases if you hold a distance learning degree.
The popularity of distance learning courses can be assessed from the fact that Ignou has more than 3.5 million students on its rolls. This is because distance education has expanded its reach immensely in the last few years. Knowledge is being imparted through various media such as print, audio-visual techniques and even satellite technology. “As far as finding a job is concerned, it does not matter whether you hold a regular or a distance learning degree. All those who have done courses through the distance learning mode are eligible for employment if the degree is approved by the Distance Education Council (DEC),” says Vikas Gupta, director, DEC.
Sounding a note of caution, however, some HR experts say employers will want to test out a candidate with a distance-education (DE) qualification. “That’s because if you get an engineer from an IIT, you are assured of some level of quality. So, (the selection process) tends to be more rigorous for distance-mode candidates. An employer will not favour a DE credential for a position that requires, say, specialised (technical) education,” says Arunav Banerjee, HR consultant and HT ShineJobs columnist.
In areas such as sales, for example, if you need graduates from anywhere, it doesn’t really matter whether a person studied full-time or through correspondence, says Banerjee.
Also, one would want to examine why a person went in for distance learning. If it followed a poor academic record, it wouldn’t be helpful. On the other hand, if a CA has a (DE) certificate in management, it will add weight to his resume and make his profile look more rounded; it will be valued.
However, mindsets matter too. “The DE degree/diploma’s acceptance in the job market will also depend on the employer’s experience with similar candidates. There can be a huge variation when it comes to candidates who did distance-learning,” adds Banerjee.