The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Far from JU, still a graduate

Jadavpur University (JU) is preparing itself to introduce a ‘distance education system’ from the next academic session. The executive council of the university, the highest decision-making body, will take up the issue for discussion during its meeting on February 7, university sources said on Monday.

It is learnt that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has selected JU as one of the centres for the distance education system and has also offered to bear the financial burden for introduction of the system.

Rajat Banerjee, JU registrar, said a recent study conducted at the all-India level suggested that only a handful of students opt for graduation because of an inadequate number of under-graduate colleges in the country. It said only six per cent of the students who pass the Higher Secondary-level of examinations and belong to the age group of 18 to 23 get the opportunity to study the under-graduate courses.

Banerjee said there were about 250 universities across the country, to which about 12,000 under-graduate colleges are affiliated. “The number of under-graduate colleges is not enough to accommodate every student passing out of school. So, we plan to introduce the system to offer an opportunity to more students,” he added. The new system will be known as “multi-modal digital distance education” and will offer ample opportunity to those who will not get admission to degree colleges.

It is learnt that all universities in West Bengal are interested in introducing the system. Calcutta University vice-chancellor and chairman of the West Bengal Vice-Chancellors Association Ashis Banerjee has recently urged JU to offer post-graduation education to those students who graduate under the distance education system.

Rabindra Bharati University (RBU) has already introduced the new system in selective subjects from the 2002-03 academic session. RBU registrar and in-charge of system Santosh Kumar Ghorui told Metro on Monday that the system covered MA courses in history, English, political science and Bengali, performing arts like Rabindrasangeet, social work and Sanskrit, too. RBU charges Rs 6,000 (both Part I and Part II) and Rs 7,000 a year for the courses on performing arts.

Sources feel introduction of the distance education system will help universities resolve their funds crisis. The universities are free to fix the rates for such courses, and the UGC does not interfere in the functioning of the universities in this case.

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