‘The only answer to improve GER is online education’ says IGNOU VC
Abhay Anand, 19 Apr 2016, #IGNOU

Careers360 interviews Nageshwar Rao, the Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) who discusses the contours of distance learning.


Read the interview to know what insights he shares on MOOCs, improving GER in higher education and initiatives of IGNOU.

Careers360: How do you look at the changes that have taken place in the distance education sector in country?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao: It is growing and it has to also change as earlier we were going for print material only and now the time has come when we have to go online because if we have to expand our reach then online is the only mode through which we can do it.  


Careers360: Can MOOCs play a big role in expansion of India’s distance education?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao
: It is possible because through that at least most of the print material, which we are using, would lose its relevance. While MOOCs is available on an open platform and if a person reads and tries to get some credit, to the basic question still is to what extent that credit is to be taken into account in our final grade sheet. The MHRD has recently constituted a committee to find out the modalities of giving weightage to this.


Careers360: How can GER in higher education be improved along with imparting quality education?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao
: Online education is the only answer to improve GER; at the same time it will be cost effective. Here the problem is the mindset and perception of people about the traditional universities. What they feel is that only in a classroom set-up teaching is done and unless that mindset changes, things will not improve.

Prof. Nageshwar RaoProf. Nageshwar Rao,
Vice Chancellor,
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

The problem here is that if we give autonomy to smaller colleges how we will be able to monitor them because once you give the autonomy in terms of examination, they must develop their own examination system, they must keep the sanctity of the examination system.

Careers360: Is it better to have lesser number of affiliated colleges and more number of universities for better delivery of education?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao
: It is possible that some of these colleges may excel but I doubt that most of the colleges might not perform to the level expected. One thing that we need to consider is that the universities having 4 lakh, 5 lakh students can be split into smaller universities. Giving autonomy to every college is not the right thing to do, as it would put a lot of financial burden on the government.

Careers360: How can students living in rural and remote areas be brought into the higher education mainstream?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao
:It is very much possible by way of ODL mode of education; we have got an AIDA (Awareness Interest Desire and Action) formula for that and through the Gyan Vani programme we are trying to reach the unreached.   

Careers360: What new initiatives are you taking up at IGNOU?
Prof. Nageshwar Rao
:Now, we are thinking in terms of placements as earlier for ODL system we used to say that placement is not required as it is only for employed people. We are going to those people who are unemployed and you have also to take care of their placements. In November last year we organized ‘Job Mela’ for women students and the response was very good and 15 companies participated in it and out of 1000 girls 200 were shortlisted. We are also trying to develop our technology in such a way that it is cost effective and if you look at IGNOU fee, it has not changed for past 7-8 years and it has happening because we have been using cost effective methods and we are hopeful that once we make things available online it will get further reduced.

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