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BW Businessworld

The Distance Advantage

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There are a number of surveys — including a very comprehensive one conducted by Businessworld — to rank and rate India's best business schools. The surveys have become important decision making tools for students and their parents who have to decide between the several schools that the student has managed to get admission into.

There aren't similar surveys to rate distance education institutes and courses in executive education in management, though. Yet these are sorely needed because these are becoming increasingly important. Indeed, online and distance education is inevitably going to become a viable alternative to physical learning across the world if the early trends continue.

Businessworld commissioned research agency Synovate to rate the distance education institutes this year. We plan to expand the survey and also commission a separate survey on executive education in the coming years.

The survey results from Synovate show that the top four institutes offering distance education in management — Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Sikkim Manipal University and Amity School of Distance Learning — are fairly close to each other in the most important parameters.

Indeed, in the five most important parameters — proper approval or affiliation; online admission and examinations; IT facilities; study centres; and finally foreign collaboration — the difference between the four are minuscule, with one institute scoring high in one parameter while another scoring better in another. For example, in three parameters — IT infrastructure and facilities, affiliations and approvals, and online admission and education —  all the top four have scored equal marks. Three of the top four also have foreign collaborations — Sikkim Manipal being the exception. At the same time, Sikkim Manipal has international study centres which the others don't.

The next three in the list are also fairly close to the top four in at least the important parameters. The competition for the top in the online education stakes can only become more fierce over the years.

Methodology:
The BW-Synovate Distance Education B-school Survey 2011 originated in a perceptual survey of various stakeholders in the management education system, the findings of which were the basis for the final objective rankings published here. In all, 501 respondents were interviewed across Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai in the perceptual survey (to read the perceptual survey, log on to www.businessworld.in). After that, the data for the 33 top-rated institutes in the perceptual survey was collected from the institutes' websites.

First, the information on all the parameters critical for students while evaluating a distance education B-School was collated from their websites. These include parameters such as the year of inception (experience), approving body (affiliation), full-time courses offered, option of online admissions and online examinations, IT infrastructure and facilities, study centres (local and international), and foreign collaborations. For institutes where information on certain parameters was missing, e-mails were sent to the institutes and final scores were arrived at on the basis of the responses received.











OFF CAMPUS: Amity University also offers distance learning course


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(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 29-08-2011)