Mohit Banka, 18, began working at a call centre after Class 12 and signed up for a BCom course through distance education. The Kandivli resident felt that a few years of work experience would help him get ahead faster than spending three years in college.
“I’ll have a degree plus work experience when I graduate. I can do a part-time MBA with the money I save. Work experience counts a great deal for an executive MBA programme,” said Banka, who is also doing a computer course.
He is among the growing number of people opting for distance education to complete their graduation while they simultaneously work. Data from Mumbai University's Institute of Distance and Open Learning shows that a majority of those enrolling in graduate and postgraduate correspondence courses are between 18 and 25 years.
In 2006, 30,838 students between 18-25 years enrolled for the distance education programme. The figure for the same age group doubled to almost 60,000 students in 2010. The total enrollment for correspondence courses has also gone up by 23% from 58,967 in 2006 to 72,666 in 2010-2011. However, the number of students in the 26-35 age group enrolling for distance education has steadily fallen in the same period.
“In the 18 to 25 age group, the maximum enrollments are in BCom (21,521 in 2010) and MCom (18,984 in 2010), which are career-oriented courses. Most students in this age group are employed. Arts is more popular among older students,” said D Harichandan, director of the institute.
But would a correspondence degree have the same value as a full-time degree course? “In Mumbai, both degrees have the same value because of the university’s good reputation. What students might miss is the social aspect of college education, but today, one does not need to go to college alone for exposure,” said Snehalata Deshmukh, ex-vice chancellor, Mumbai University.