Know all about Open and Distance Learning (ODL) from UP Rajarshi Tandon Open University (UPRTOU), Allahabad.
The UP Rajarshi Tandon Open University (UPRTOU) is the only university in Uttar Pradesh with a jurisdiction over the entire state of 20 crore people. What’s more, being based in a Hindi-speaking region, it offers most of its 96 courses in the Hindi medium. “So, our university is a special attraction for Hindi-speaking students,” says AK Bakhshi, vice-chancellor, Rajarshi Tandon Open University (UPRTOU). Set up in 1999, it now has about 55,000 enrollees in various programmes totalling 96.
“UP’s sociocultural background finds focus in some of our courses. For example, popular courses in Hindi medium such as postgraduate diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication and Master’s in Journalism deal to a great extent with the contribution of UP in the freedom struggle and national development,” he elaborates. Students from all over India are welcome at the university.
Spread over 15 acres, the varsity complex is divided into the main campus; an academic block and a residential block. The campus is Wi-Fi-enabled. Since it’s an open university, student counselling services are offered at 456 study centres across UP. Full-Time and Part-Time teachers are engaged in course preparation, delivery and counselling. “A number of highly-qualified teachers working in UG and PG colleges and universities in the state help this university in conducting counselling classes in different study centres on a Part-Time basis,” says Bakhshi. “Several good books have been published by members of our faculty who are also involved in writing, editing etc of self-learning material (SLM) prepared by UPRTOU and guide research scholars, participating in conferences,” he adds.
Lectures of eminent persons on CDs, library, reading room and e-library facilities, computer lab, an audio-visual lab, Gyan Vani and Edusat programmes are available.
I learned everything about computers: Information Technology is important in diverse fields today. I realised that since I was not well-versed in computers, I was lagging behind my colleagues in the medical field (I am a neurosurgeon at Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital in Allahabad). There would be colleagues working on their laptops so one would feel left out. So, I thought I needed to hone my computing skills. However, I didn’t — and even now don’t — have much time at my disposal to pursue a regular course in Computer Science.
There were training institutes conducting courses in this discipline but their class schedules didn’t suit me. So, some years ago, I decided to enrol for a diploma in computers at UP Rajarshi Tandon Open University in Allahabad.
There were students from different sectors like Management who were pursuing the course. The curriculum was good. I studied and learned how to work on my computer at home. If you had a doubt regarding your lessons, you could go to the study centres, though I never had to because I had my friends who knew the subject. On the university campus, too, they provide student support.
The university used to organise contact classes in the evenings twice a week. I attended a few of those.
Though the course was of the duration of one year, it took me two years to finish. That’s because, at the time of my final examination, I had to go to the United States of America to attend a conference. Therefore, I took my diploma examination next year.
I think, if someone is looking for a course, and they don’t have enough time to do a Full-Time, join the open university. It allows you to study at your pace. It’s flexible. I don’t know what’s happening now, but in my time, the fee was nominal – Dr Kartikeya Sharma, a neurosurgeon at Allahabad’s Kamala Nehru Hospital (has a diploma in computers from UPRTOU).
What’s on offer
Contact programmes in the form of counselling classes are held at study centres in the middle of every semester, generally in October-November for odd semesters and in February-March for even semesters.
The varsity provides printed self-learning material (SLM) prepared by it and Ignou. Lectures of eminent persons on CDs, and Gyan Vani and Edusat programmes etc are available too. “Our vision is to integrate ICT with distance education in the future to enhance the quality of education imparted.
Programmes offered by UPRTOU:
“A lot of efforts are also being made at the national level under NMEICT to develop e-learning material for various undergraduate and postgraduate courses,” says AK Bakhshi, vice-chancellor, UPRTOU, referring to the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology.
Bachelor’s in Arts, Science, Commerce, Tourism, Business Administration and Computer Application in addition to B.Ed, B.Ed (Special Education), BLib. “We had M.Phil and PhD courses in several subjects earlier. Now, we are going to restart these courses in the coming session in accordance with new UGC guidelines for open universities,” informs Bakhshi.
The programmes are offered through more than 450 study centres (three to five in each district), controlled by five regional centres at Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Varanasi for the eastern region, Lucknow for the central region and Bareilly for the western region. At present, exams are held at 91 exam centres, some of which are in Allahabad, Mainpuri, Varanasi, Aligarh, Agra, Ballia, Pratabhgarh, Kanpur, Farukhabad.
Straight from the head
The philosophy of UPRTOU can be summarised by 3As — anytime, anyone and anywhere. We are now going to implement the AAA concept — admission for anyone, anytime, anywhere, A K Bakhshi, Vice Chancellor, Rajarshi Tandon Open University.