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The distance education programme seems to be a cash cow for universities because the only major expense is for reviewing and printing study material, which in any case is done once in three or four years. In many universities, the distance education programme sustains regular colleges, said an official of the Madurai Kamaraj University on condition of anonymity.
“This explains why universities are reluctant to drop courses and often tie up with private players to conduct contact classes,” he said. “We do make a profit from the distance education programme — during the last fiscal, we had a proft of Rs 1 crore,” said TD Kemparaju, director, DCC and DE, Bangalore University.
BU’s distance education programme makes about Rs 3 crore from its undergraduate programme (Arts, 3 years) alone. There are about 2000 admissions per year for its various Arts programmes, with a fee of Rs 4000. BCom sees a higher intake than Arts and its BBM course fee is Rs 9000.
With a fee of about Rs 6900 for each of its six postgraduate programmes (excluding MCom) and an intake of about 40 students per year, Mangalore University rakes in Rs 33,12,000 from its programme (for two years). Its MCom programme rakes in about Rs 20,70,000 with about 150 students paying Rs 6900 in fees for two years.
“Open and distance education is profitable. However, where we differ from regular programmes is the study material,” he said.
According to Mangalore University officials, it spends about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for printing study material. Apart from this, experts who revise study material are paid Rs 15,000 per subject.
This cost is periodical, perhaps once in four years.
Other expenses are for conducting contact classes and examinations, administration of university (including staff salary, telephone bills, maintenance of computers and other infrastructure, etc). Lecturers from other colleges/ universities are hired on an hourly basis at Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per hour plus travel expenses. According to NS Ramegowda, former VC, KSOU, universities using revenue from distance education is rampant.

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