Distance courses: A long way to go to keep students hooked

  • Omkar Gokhale and Nidhi Chandak, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 20, 2015 16:14 IST

Though the number of candidates enrolling for distance education is increasing every year, many are finding it tough to spare enough time for studies, leading to an increase in the number of dropouts.

Ashwin Ghanate, 30, a resident of Kandivali, works with an ad agency in the city. He got admitted for a long-distance postgraduate course in ad and communication. However, he quit within a year as he could not find time to study. “It was impossible to allot enough time for studies as I would work for 15 hours a day. Work was my priority as I had family responsibilities,” Ghanate said.


“I enrolled for Bachelor of Law (LLB, a three-year course) at New Law College, Matunga. However, it became difficult for me to continue with studies due to increase in work pressure after a promotion,” said a 24-year-old media professional on the condition of anonymity. She said, “There were around 150 students in my class in the first year. The number dropped to half the next year.”

Around 80,000 students enrol for undergraduate and postgraduate courses every year with University of Mumbai’s Distance and Open Learning (IDOL). “Number of dropouts is increasing. Around 40% of students do not appear for exams, while only 30% clear the final year exams,” said Vinod Malale, spokesperson, IDOL.

According to education experts, working conditions are responsible for an increase in dropout rate. “When a student is employed and needs to shoulder family commitments, there is little time for studies. Such students may not be in a position to balance their personal obligations and educational pursuits, and are often left with little or no choice but to drop out,” said Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist and counsellor.

Students of regular full-time courses also often drop out. “Most of my friends have opted to drop a year or quit the course as they found it difficult to complete studies while working for almost 10 hours. Some of them didn’t get leave from work during exams,” said Radhika Rane, an MCom graduate from ML Dahanukar College, Vile Parle.

“Though there is an increase in number of students pursuing full-time courses and working simultaneously, most find it tough to balance the two. Most city colleges, including ours, have started assigning mentors for such students. Extra classes are conducted and workshops on stress management are held,” said Jyoti Thakur, executive coordinator and vice-principal, Jai Hind College, Churchgate.

A principal from a college in the western suburbs said, “These are intelligent students. We make attendance rules flexible for them.”

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