As per official data, BBA emerged as the most popular online UG course with 13,764 registrations, in 2021-22. The course is followed by BCA with 5,166 enrolments and BA with 4,028 enrolments. At the postgraduation level, MBA is the most popular online course with 28,956 enrolments, followed by MCA with 5,430 enrolments and Masters of Commerce with 3,300 enrolments.
Nayantara Padhi, programme coordinator, MBA, IGNOU, says in the last three years, the number of enrolments in the flagship MBA ODL programme has risen by 150%, while enrolments in BBA have risen by 20-30%. However, this number is still skewed in terms of enrolment of students from rural areas, as IGNOU currently has a ratio of 76:24, in favour of students from urban areas, she adds.
At the School of Management Studies and Commerce, Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani, around 70% students in the online MBA course are from semi-urban areas, while the remaining hail from urban areas, says RC Mishra, director of the institute.
Change in old approach
Rajeev Kumar Shukla, professor, School of Management Studies, IGNOU, says, “The ODL MBA programme is our flagship course, which has always been popular. In January 2022, UGC has put online and ODL courses at par, increasing the popularity of the online MBA courses across institutes as well.” The e-content and video lectures from world-renowned professors are a pulling factor acting in favour of these courses.
To increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education, as specified by NEP 2020, we need to change the old approach, says Mishra. “Providing physical infrastructure to a large number of students is difficult. Not all students may get admission to conventional MBA institutes due to lower merit or lack of financial resources. Online MBA charges minimal fees and allows all aspirants to opt for the course,” he adds. The online courses are also directly linked with the industry, giving candidates the required industry exposure for better job opportunities, says Mishra.
Dealing with roadblocks
Online MBAs will serve a major purpose if it attracts students from rural areas. “In 2012, we introduced the MBA in Hindi, post which our enrolments from rural areas increased massively. The lack of books in Hindi and the hesitation of examiners to set exam papers and check answer sheets in Hindi forced us to shut down the Hindi MBA programme after two years. We have realised that rural students will join online MBA if we break the language barrier,” says Mishra.