WITH the word ‘recession’ becoming a major concern of students and professionals, distance education is gaining more popularity since it is cost effective as well as convenient.
A sizeable number of foreign students in the US and UK are from Nepal, and the numbers have only been growing. Students from high income as well as middle class families have been migrating to these countries with rosy dreams of doing their post graduation and eventually settling into high paid jobs in the international market.
However, the ongoing global economic crisis has led students to think again and make informed choices regarding the courses they intend to take up. Lay offs and concern of job security have led to growing doubts in the minds of the students who wish to pursue higher education abroad during these troubled times. They listen to their peers (students who are already based abroad) about the existing scenario where pink slips are almost the order of the day and students are being forced to make do with part-time jobs.
"I had planned to do an MS in the US. I had even prepared to give my GRE and TOFEL, and had started applying to various universities," says Sougath Singh, who has just completed his BE in computer engineering. "But now, I am having second thoughts. Is it really wise on my part to tax my middle class parents to invest money for me to do an expensive course like an MBA? What if I do not get a job immediately after passing out? In fact, I may just have to wait and watch, take on a job temporarily and then, if the economic situation improves, plan to do it next year."
Many students like Sougath have put their higher education plans on hold. But some have decided to take the option of doing some short-term certification courses online.
"I have landed a job with a reputed bank with great difficulty, and I don’t want to risk losing this job just for further studies abroad," says Varsha Sharma, a commerce graduate. She plans to enroll for the online CISA programme of American Online University (AOU), which would help him advance his career. According to Varsha, this will add value to his resume during the next round of promotion.
Online courses are generally opted by working professionals who wish to study further and acquire additional qualifications. But during these trying times, many young fresh graduates are opting for online courses as they are relatively cost-effective and can be done while holding on to your job.
Commerce graduates seem to have the widest range of options for international certifications by distance education. The CPA, CFA, CISA, CIMA are all very popular and attract students every year. The best part is that the student has the option of joining the local study circle, which allows him the required interaction with core professionals in the same field.
Online MBA is another programme that attracts a whole lot of students, especially if awarded by a top ranked foreign university. "With more and more campus MBA programmes offering the degree online, the online degree has become more socially acceptable," says Milan Tamang, an executive with a multinational company.
"I have more than ten years’ work experience, and my employer is willing to support my education. So, I have decided to enroll for the online MBA programme with a top ranked US university. This will enable me to balance my job, which involves a lot of travel, and my attention to increase my intellectual stock."
The online MBA has evolved with the times. It is not just video lectures and chats, but also interaction between students and professors by using methods to bring in the real classroom atmosphere and allowing discussions and presentations. However, students must decide for themselves whether doing the course online suits them as it requires a high-level of self-discipline and motivation.
Rewarding learning experience
Distance learning requires you to read, think and express your thoughts on your own, apart from making your own deadlines and meeting them. It also requires you to be computer savvy, and acceptable to learning new software tools and applications. The flexibility of the timing, the ability to pursue your studies simultaneously with your career, and affording an integration of the two give one a rewarding learning experience.
(Source: The Rising Nepal)