Very frequently we receive queries from the students, whether the degree received from distance mode is equivalent with regular degree or not, and what about the acceptability for applying jobs. For answering such query one need to know about distance education programme and about its recognition. This article will be limited to the distance education programme in India only. In general, distance education refers to the education where a student needs not necessarily to attend the classrooms physically. These days online education which is becoming a popular trend is also considered as distance education. Historical background of the distance education says that the concept of distance education evolve with the thinking to provide platform for them who cannot attend the regular classroom and hence the course curriculums also designed in such a way that, a student can learn a subject or avail education by studying at home. The home assignments are also designed in a such way that compel the students to go in depth of the course. From my perspective, it is not a good idea to compare distance education with regular education. Both have its own perspective and uniqueness. In India, distance education in school section under is conducted by the National Institute of open schooling, and higher education through different university in India. Initially the distance education programs were controlled and recognized by Distance education council of India, now the distance education has been brought under the umbrella of University Grant Commission (UGC). Post Graduate programme in distance mode is becoming very popular among many students.
When we talk about the values and acceptance of the degree, officially there are no differences between a distance mode degree and regular degree, but my observation is that common people or recruiters have the belief that a student from a regular course is having more value education than of the distance mode course. It is also true that I have never come across any advertisement either in government or for private sector mentioning that the candidate should have a degree/ master degree from regular program or from distance mode, only they do mention the required degree should be from recognized university except in one recruitment of PG Teacher advertisement in one Army school application form, I have noticed that they have asked the candidate to fill-up whether they have pursued their study in regular mode or from distance mode.
In many cases, the education in distance mode has become boon for deserving and aspiring students community who wants to pursue their education despite of many obligation for attending regular courses. Also for those who are already in job, they can pursue their education in distance mode or in correspondence mode to get career growth and promotion in the job. The common trend of pursuing distance mode education is at post graduate level whether it is MA or MBA or some other courses. One frequent question arises regarding the eligibility to appearing for NET or SET examination for lectureship after post graduate degree in distance mode. As on today, every post graduate with minimum required percentage are eligible to appear for NET/SET irrespective of their mode of study.
In India Indira Gandhi National Open University (www.ignou.ac.in) is the well-known institution who is offering various graduates and post graduate level courses in India and some other countries. Most of the state universities are also running distance education program within the state of their affiliation. In Assam, Krishna Kanta State Open University (www.kkhsou.in), Gauhati University is offering through Institute of Distance and Open Learning (www.idolgu.in) and Dibrugarh University is offering through Directorate of Distance and Open Learning (www.dibru.ac.in). A student can check the recognition of a programme or a university or the list of university authorised to offer distance mode course and the affiliated programs in the website of University Grant Commission (www.ugc.ac.in). Some private universities are also offering courses in distance mode in Assam and in India. It is highly recommended for a student to check the recognition of the university and the programme before joining a course or a university. In some exceptional cases some private university conduct regular classes for some programmes but the affiliation is in distance modes and many students make mistake by assuming it to be a regular mode program.
(NB: This article has already published in Assam Tribune Newspaper on 11-06-2018)