Tamil Nadu: the Mecca for Distance Education in India -1

Tamil Nadu is one State with an impressive literacy rate. Central to this achievement is the role of a good number of distance education courses offered by almost every University in the State. The most important features and details of such courses that have made Tamil Nadu a Mecca for distance education in the entire country are sought to be explained in some detail in this three-article series.


Distance Education courses mean a lot to those who do not get chances to acquire a graduate degree or post-graduate degree for whatever reason. The courses offered by the various Tamil Nadu Government Universities have a big variety and have helped thousands shape their careers. For instance, Annamalai University was the first university to offer an MBA through distance mode. To this day, it has the approval of the AICTE and the University is the largest competitor to the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) at the national level. In fact, Annamalai University has the biggest national reach that no other University has in India in terms of reach.

The most important details pertaining to the courses offered by the various Universities will be discussed in the three articles, including this article. It should be noted that various Universities literally envelop the entire Tamil Nadu population and anyone wanting to acquire a degree through distance education has to just contact the nearest University. For example, the University of Madras and Annamalai University cover the north Tamil Nadu districts. The Periyar University at Salem and the Bharathiar University at Coimbatore cover Western Tamil Nadu. The Bharadidasan University at Tiruchirapalli and the Madurai-Kamaraj University at Madurai, cater to the central districts. The courses offered by the Alagappa University, Karaikudi and the Manonmaniyam Sundaranar University at Tirunelveli, cater to the Southern districts. Even the latest Tiruvalluvar University, Vellore, has started some distance education courses. In this article, we will discuss the most important features of the distance education courses offered by the University of Madras, the Annamalai University, and Alagappa University.

The second article in this series Tamil Nadu: the Mecca for Distance Education in India -2 discusses the distance education series of the Madurai-Kamaraj University in Madurai, the third-largest city of Tamil Nadu, the Bharathiyaar University that is based at Coimbatore, the second-largest city of Tamil Nadu, and the Bharathidasan Univesity, the fourth largest city of Tamil Nadu.

The State Universities of Tamil Nadu are spread out in different parts of the State. On the Western side, for example, Salem is a very big town with a vast service sector and some small scale industries. This is the seat of Periyar University. In deep South Tamil Nadu, Tirunelveli is a big town and houses the Manonmani Sundaranar University. These two Universities also offer a variety of good courses through distance education and the Chennai-based SRM University has also got into the act. Courses of these three Universities are discussed in the third article in this series and also discusses the depth of the courses.
Tamil Nadu: the Mecca for Distance Education in India -3

Institute of Distance Education University of Madras

The University of Madras is one of the oldest Universities in India, established by the British. It has some of the finest colleges in Chennai, the headquarters of this University. All famous colleges are autonomous colleges.

Established in the year 1981, the Institute of Distance Education of this University has built a niche for itself through some unique courses. The biggest advantage in its favour is the brand value of the University of Madras, a name that is famous throughout the world. With this as its unique selling proposition, the Madras University has been able to have a good number of enrolments in all its distance education courses.

Apart from the regular courses, the specializations offered are unique. For example, the B.Com (Bank Management) and the B.Sc(Psychology) courses. The BA(Historical Studies) is also one such. Among the different diploma courses, the most notable ones are the Diploma in textile and Fashion Design and the Diploma in Accounting and Auditing. The Diploma in Information Security and Cyber Law is reportedly taken by most police personnel. The MA ( Human Rights and Duties Education) is a course that is much sought after by the Non-Governmental employees as it offers them advanced knowledge pertaining to their field of specialization. When I quizzed a couple of students who had already completed this course, they opined that the standards were quite good and the knowledge offered them enough motivation to do further research.

Of particular interest to those in engaged in counseling services are the two main courses offered. -- the M.Sc(Psychology) and M.Sc (Counseling Psychology). It has been reported that these two courses have seen increased enrolments year after year since counseling services have now increased in hundreds of schools and colleges and even the Indian corporate companies.

Contact Information:-
Institute of Distance Education
University of Madras
Chennai 600 005
Phone number:- 2651 3716
Email:- inom.ide.ug1@gmail.com
Website: www.ideunom.ac.in

Directorate of Distance Education Annamalai University

Annamalai University is also a prestigious and old University. It is one of the few Universities in India that also offers the B.Tech courses. The Directorate of Distance Education was established in the year 1979. Today, the Annamalai University offers the widest range of over two hundred courses.

Its unique off-campus programs are conducted in 22 different centers spread throughout the country. What strikes one is the range of courses offered. The same courses are also recognized for appointment to Government positions in both the State and Central Governments. For example, the Inter National Institute of Fashion Design, based at Chandigarh, is one that offers that BSc and MSc degree courses in Fashion Design and Interior Design and also the Advanced Diploma courses in the same disciplines. Hence, the University caters to interested candidates who are based in that part of the country.

Similarly, those with a spiritual orientation towards life, with Yoga as a special interest, will not miss the opportunities to do the M.Sc. (Yoga and Value Education), MSc (Self Management and Crisis Management), and Post-Graduate Diploma in Counseling and Spiritual Health offered in collaboration with the Rajyoga Education Research Foundation, based at Madurai.

The Distance Education set up has so many courses under various "wings". Of particular interest is the Master's Degree in Philosophy, Religion, and Culture, offered by the Sociology wing. This wing also offers the Master of Labor-Management course and this course is widely recognized to be appointed as Welfare Officers under the Factories Act in Tamil Nadu. The MSc(Applied Psychology) course has many practical sessions that are reported to be extremely good.

Hence, Annamalai University goes on to innovate in terms of unique courses. There is not a single University in any State that offers such a big variety of courses. The town of Chidambaram has excellent tourism potential when the compulsory contact classes are conducted for the various courses during the summer months. Post-COVID-19, one can be reasonably assured that Annamalai University will resume such contact classes. The present online classes have been able to attract the attention of their distance education students.

Contact Information:-
The Directorate of Distance Education
Annamalai University
Annamalai Nagar
Chidambaram 608002
Tamil Nadu
Phone numbers:- 04144 - 238796, 04144-238263
Email:- dddirector2013@gmail.com

Directorate of Distance Education Alagappa University

This is another University that is not based in a metro location but has made its mark. Karaikudi is a district headquarter town, around ninety minutes from Madurai, the third-largest city in Tamil Nadu, with an International Airport. Over the years, the University has been able to grow from strength to strength and its courses now have a unique appeal in the State of Tamil Nadu and from neighbouring Kerala as well.

Not to be left behind, the Alagappa University offers some unique courses, apart from the usual courses.

Chief among them is the widest range of MBA courses. It is the only University in India to offer the 5 years Integrated MBA program after plus two education, and this has reportedly attracted a number of students who for various reasons, were not able to continue their education beyond the plus two-stage.
The MBA degree for example also has a specialization in Technology Management that is quite suitable for engineers.

The University also offers the MA ( Personnel Management and Industrial Relations0 course, which is highly useful for anyone employed in the HR profession. Similarly, the quality of its MA (Journalism and Mass Communication course is said to be quite good.

Contact Information:-
Directorate of Distance Education
Alagappa University
Tamil Nadu 630 003.
Phone numbers: 04565 -228098 and 04565-223410.
Email:- dde@alagappauniversity.ac.in


As discussed above, the uniqueness of the Tamil Nadu packages offered by the three Universities - the Madras University, the Annamalai University, and the Alagappa University - are really good and offer the widest variety of courses to choose from. In the years to come, it is likely that these Universities might also introduce courses in the latest IT-oriented knowledge and skill areas such as cloud computing. Those in service in various positions in the private and public sector companies and even the State Government are reportedly studying in the various distance education courses and this augurs well for the development of every student who chooses to study through the distance education courses of these Universities.

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