ISSN NO. 2581-9070 ONLINE

Expansion of Distance Education in Higher Education- Dr.A.Dharini & Dr.K.Geetanjali

Expansion of Distance Education in Higher Education

Dr.A.Dharini, Librarian, Visakha Govt. degree college for women, visakhapatnam,Andhrapradesh

Dr.K.Geetanjali, Lecturer in Economics, visakha govt. degree college for women, visakahpatnam,Andhra Pradesh


Distance education has been recognised as an alternative to formal education. It is an alternate route for development of mankind. It can act as a social catalyst for the developing World. It is rightly said that education is recognised as a strategy for development and distance education focuses on technology and instructional systems design that aims to deliver education to students who are not physically on site. The present paper discuss the role played by distance education in meeting the problems faced by a number of students. It also refers to different distance learning Universities offered in  India with special reference to Indira Gandhi National Open UniversityNew Delhi. and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.

Key Words: Distance Education, Open Universities, Developing Countries, Learning courses.


Distance education has been widely recognised as an alternative route for educating masses. Conventional education could not achieve the target of democratising educationespecially in developing countries. It is in thia context that those poor and low income countries took distance education as a new force so that masses can be liberated from farkness of illiteracy. Nearly one billion people in the developing countries are still illiterate and the challenge of educating them can only be taken up by distance education. Multimedia approach is the basic feature of distance education and with the help of modern communication technologies the barriers of time and space can be overcome to provide distance education tyo largeb group of masses.

Distance Education “is a process to create and provide access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both.” In other words, distance learning is the process of creating an educational experience of equal qualitative value for the learner to best suit their needs outside the classroom. This emerging technology is becoming widely used in universities and institutions around the globe. With the recent trend of technological advance, distance learning is becoming more recognized for its potential in providing individualized attention and communication with students internationally.  http://www.ugc.ac.in/deb/. Thus distance education is a non formal form of teaching learning process in which teaching learning take place noit in the class room but in distant places and thre role of the teccher is carried out by print and non oprint media with the provision for frequent counselling sessions and supplemented by educational broadcast. The whole teaching learniong process is under the supervision and control of the distance teaching institution/ university.

According to Dohman “Distance Education is a systamaticallynorganised form off self study in which student counselling, the presentation of learning material, the securing and supervising of students success is carried out by a team of teachers each of whom have responsibility. It is made possible at a distance by means of media which can cover long distances.”  Similar line of thought has been defined by Moore describes it as “ Distance teaching is the family of instructional methods in which the teaching behaviours are executed apart from the learning behaviours including those that in a contiguous situation would be performed in the learner’s presence so that communication between the teacher and the learner must be fcilitated by print, electronic, mechanical or other devices.

Distance Education Council was established in 1991 to overview and coordinate distance education in India. In accordance with the directions of the Central Government in December 2012, the responsibility of undertaking the regulatory functions of the Distance Education has been transferred from Distance Education Council (DEC) to University Grants Commission (UGC). Thus, UGC is the sole regulating body in the country for distance education and it has been granting approval to the institutes to offer courses that must follow certain standards and guidelines.

The first university in the world that started to offer distance learning degree in 1958 was the “University of London”. In India, the State Govt of Andhra Pradesh for the first time established “Andhra Prasdesh OpenUniversity on 26th August 1982 through APOU Act, 1982. This University was renamed as Dr. B.R.Ambedkhar Open University Act on 7th December 1991 by Govt. Of Andhra Pradesh(APOU, 1992). In 1985 the Union Govt. took imnitiative for establishment of a National Open University and on 20th September 1985 Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU) came into existence (Kumar, 2016).

In India distance is no longer an impediment to pursue a course and complete them as most universities have study and examination centers in many cities. The interest in Distance Education is growing very rapidly in India and is expected to double up in the next decade. There is a Directory on Distance Education that will serve the purpose of making it easy for students to choose courses in Distance Education along with full details on Universities offering them. For example Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi is a premier open university in India that has more 7,50,000 students with extremely varied profiles, spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. The University has an efficient and effective networking of 67 Regional Centers  and over 2667 Learners Support Centers, all over India and 29 overseas partner institutions. As an Open University, IGNOU has come a long way since 1985, having crossed national boundaries providing higher education as well as assisting other developing countries in this regard. Similarly most universities of India also impart distance education to meet the growing demand.

Distance learning institutes in India have witnessed a remarkable rise in student enrolment crossing the 10 million mark. While experts in the distance and online education domain agree that this mode is amongst the best to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education is 30 percent by 2020. Through distance learning study material are provided to learners at regular intervals. Seminars and workshops are organised by universities to encourage students for their carrier development. IGNOU organises technology enabled education EduSat to telecast video lessons. Programmes like Gyan Vani telecast educational programmes to motivate learners. Distance education follows multi-media approach and its instructional system consists of communication technologies and information technology.

Characteristics of Distance Education

  • Two way communication between teacher and learners.
  • Alternative cost effective non-formal channel for education
  • Continuing and lifelong education

Advantages of Distance Education

  • Flexibility
  • Cost Effective
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Equal Access
  • Dual Degree
  • Accessibility

Disadvantages of Distance Education

  • Isolation
  • Lack of knowledge in using information technology
  • Short period of the course
  • Lack of sufficient infrastructure
  • Loss of motivation
  • Less interaction with co-peer groups.

Some of the list of open universirties in India are listed below

  • Dr B.R.Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad(1982)
  • Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi(1985)
  • Kota Open University, Kota(1987)
  • NalandaOpenUniversity,Patna(1987)
  • Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nasik(1989)
  • Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal(1992)
  • Baba Saheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad (1994)
  • Karnataka State Open University, Manasagangotri(1996)
  • Netaji Subhas Open University, Calcutta(1997)
  • Rajrishi Tandon Open University, Allahabad(1999)

A brief description about noted open universities in India are as follows:

Dr B.R.Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad(1982)

The university was established in August 1982 by Act of the State Legislature. It was inaugurated by the President of India. The Founder & First Vice Chancellor of the University was Prof. G. Ram Reddy. The University was renamed as “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University” on 24 October 1991 after the Architect of the Indian Constitution Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar on the occasion of his birth centenary. The principal aim of the University is to provide an opportunity to those who are not in a position to avail themselves of the facilities for higher education through regular on-campus study at conventional colleges/universities. It adopts a flexible approach to eligibility, age of entry,choice of courses, method of learning, conduct of exams and operation of educational programmes.The Univ makes use of a variety of learning media including Radio, TV,film, audio cassette and the printed study material, besides arranging contact and counselling programmes and Sc ‘Practicals’ which makes for the traditional teacher-student interaction. The University functions through anetwork of 117 Study Centres located in the twin-cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and all the districts of the State.

Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi(1985)

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was established with a dual purpose. It is an open university and also the apex body charged with determination and promotion of distance education standards in India. It offers post graduate programmes in the area of distance education in Library Science, Management, Computer Application, Tourism, post graduate diplomas in Management, Water Resource Engineering, Journalism, Mass Communication, Maternal and Childhealth. Under graduate programmes are offered in B.Sc Nursing,BScMaths,Physics,Chemistry,LifeSciences,B.Tech in Water Resources, Engineering, Certificate courses in Computing, Disaster Management, Food and Nutrition., B Ed programme, Diploma programme in Website design and Management. It also proposes to launch Ph.D in Library Science. Business Management, Education, Public Administration, M.Phil in Public Administration, M.A in Hindi, Diploma in Geriatric Medicine. IGNOU has a network of 21 regional centres and 411 study centres. Students are able to meet their counsellors for fruitful academic interactions. Most of the study centres are provided with libraries. Univrersity follows multimedia approach for interaction. It  comprises self instructional materials for assessment and feed back, audio video cassettes, academic counselling at study centres, practicals and television transmission.

Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University

It is an open university in Kota, Rajasthan, India, established on 23 July 1987, and was initially known as Kota Open University. focussing particularly on the humanities, commerce, library science and informatics. It is geographically distributed throughout Rajasthan, with regional centres in Ajmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Udaipur and Bharatpur, and several tens of “study centres” in cities, in addition to a special centre at New Delhi.


It is at Patna in Bihar state, India. It is the only university in Bihar providing education through distance and open education. Nalanda Open University Degree/Diploma /Certificates are eligible for higher studies, public & private sector employment and service promotions. It is recognized by University Grants Commission (UGC). It is a member of Association of Indian Universities which is mainly concerned with the recognition of Degrees/Diplomas awarded by the Universities in India, which are recognized by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, and abroad for the purpose of admission to higher degree courses in Indian Universities. It is an open university which means that it follows an open-door academic policy and is open to everyone for admission with minimum requirements.

It is the second largest open university in India after Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda_Open_University

Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nasik(1989)

The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) was established in July 1989 in Maharashtra State Legislature, named after Yashwantrao Chavan, Maharashtra’s great political leader and builder of modern Maharashtra. It is the fifth Open University in India. The jurisdiction of the university, originally for the State of Maharashtra, has now been extended beyond this State and the university can now operate anywhere across the globe. The YCMOU has been recognised under section 12 (B) of the University Grants Commission Act. The following schools have been established in this open university

  • School of Agricultural Science
  • School of Architecture, Science and Technology
  • School of Commerce and Management
  • School of Computer Science
  • School of Continuing Education
  • School of Education
  • School of Health Science
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal(1992)

The foundation stone of the university was laid on June 17, 1992 by the then His Excellency President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma. The university is named after the great king Bhoj, to give a modern and concrete reality to the vision of this legendary who ruled from 1010 A.D. to 1055 A.D approximately. The goddess Vagdevi (Goddess of speech), sculpted by the great artist manthala, has been adopted as an emblem by MPBOU. The Idol of Vagdevi (The Goddess of Learning), of international fame, which was initially placed in Bhojshala (the school of Learning created by the great King Bhoj of Central India in the Year 1035 A.D) is now in British Museum. With a very generous support, of King Bhoj, scholars from all the parts of India converged to Bhojshala, which produced 84 monumental works in Sanskrit. The last two words in the sloka written on the top mean Dedication for the cause of learning. These words appear in the emblem of the Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University. The following department are established in this open university. Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Department of History, Archaeology culture and Tourism, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Multimedia and General Education.

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad is a public institution of higher learning in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. It provides a variety of certificate courses, Diploma and degree programs through distance education mode, and other flexible mediums for its students. It is named after Indian political leader Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. The university offers 38 programmes with an enrollment of more than 100,000 learners. The university has established its Regional Centre on the campus of Saurashtra University, Rajkot, and has initiated the process of establishing another regional centre on the campus of North Gujarat University, Patan. The university has more than 250 study centers. Its jurisdiction is over the whole state of Gujarat. It is open to all persons irrespective of classes, castes, creed, or religion. The following schools are established namely school of Humanities & Social Sciences, School of Commerce and Management, School of Education Distance Education & Education Technology and School of Computer Science.


Distance Education provides a powerful and cost effective tool for delivery to large numbers of people. Training of all citizens cannot be taken up by formal and conventional education so distance education comes to answer to solve the problem of educating large group of masses. Governments have initiated efforts to eradicate illiteracy and it continues. As illiterate people are unable to assimilate scientific practice in the field of health, sanitation, agriculture, animal husbandry, family planning, environmental issues as large number of people have no formal schooling. Some forms of distance education programmes can be applied to those adults to create awareness. The training programmes can be implemented effectively through multimedia approach of distance education.


1.DohmenG (1999). Foundations of Distance Education, Routledge, London, Pg 36.

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