International Center for Academics (ICA)
Bishwajit Mukherjee is the Managing Director at International Center for Academics (ICA), Established in 1997 AD. ICA is affiliated to Indira Gandhi National Open University, India. It is one of the pioneering institutes of Open and Distance learning in Nepal that started its program in 2001 AD. The study center is approved by the Ministry of Education, Nepal.
ICA offers eight different Academic, Value Added and Awareness programs through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode in Management, Humanities & Social Sciences, Tourism, Computer Science, etc .The learners enrolled in ICA are fresher or professionals from diverse fields, such as Hospitality Industry, Financial Institution, Telecommunication, Corporate House, Embassy and Diplomatic Agency etc. Mr. Mukherjee shares his view on growing signicance of value added programs with College Readers. Excerpts:
What type of programs are distance learning?
The college is not running regular classes. It is only distance learning course. The college offers professional courses affiliated to Indira Gandhi Open University which is the world’s largest Open University in terms of the number of students. The college has not run full time programs. The students can learn from distance. It has been providing internationally acclaimed degrees through Open and Distance Learning Mode of Education in Nepal. We provide reading materials to students after their enrollment and they will learn from the distance. The students at least have 75% attendance in practical classes whereas all the theoretical courses can be learnt from the distance. It has periodical assessment and the Indian Embassy conducts the written examinations.
Could you share with us its fee structure? Is it affordable for Nepalese learners? How is the provision of academic performance and delivery?
ICA has been offering quality education at a very low fee structure. Comparing its fee structure with that of private and public colleges in Nepal, it delivers its service at a cheaper fee, about 65% to 70% less. In a general college, students have to pay around NPR 700000.00-8000000.00 for BBA course, but we offer the same qualification at NPR 200000.00 to 250000.00. Since students acquire education from their convenience location, travel and food snack expenses can be saved. While talking about delivering service, the University has its E-portal through which the students get all reading materials. Similarly, they get supportive materials from Gyan Darshan TV channel and Gyan Darshan FM. We provide internal internet access through which students are provided live-recorded lecture on a topic. The ICA College has E-learning platform through which students are provided version with flexible courses. The minimum academic duration is similar to that of other universities, such as TU, KU, and the University has provided maximum duration of five years for master’s degree and six years for bachelor’s degree. If students couldn’t complete their courses within the stipulated time, they have to restart the courses. There is a provision of credit transfer, too.
It may be difficult to get public trust on its quality and equivalency. How would you guarantee the quality?
The college ensures flexibility in learning. Most students enrolled in our college are self-motivated, particularly from working group. So, we find maturity in them. They are passionate about implementing knowledge and skill in real field. The college provides sufficient materials through E-learning platform. It also offers programs and materials in collaboration with the government and non-government agencies through an arrangement of programs, such as specific work centers and a strong network of learner support centers situated in different locations of Nepal. Since most of the students are self-motivated and enthusiastic and the college has provided sufficient reading materials, it has automatically maintained quality in education. In addition, the college has been providing opportunity to learn in any time from any locations, so, it is flexible in terms of available time and courses. More importantly, it is affiliated to widely-trusted Indira Gandhi Open University. In this regard, there is no any doubt about its equivalency and quality.
To what extent are you getting support from the government in running the institution smoothly?
We are thankful to the government for providing us appropriate policy and programs. Nepal has also adopted the policy of Open Distance Learning University. We requested the government to adopt the policy of Open distance learning in 2008 AD with a team of TU. The government accepted it positively and took an appropriate step. Still, we are facing some problems due to policy of the government keeping both general colleges and open colleges in one basket in terms of economic considerations. The government should prepare separate directory for regularizing general colleges and open colleges.
What suggestions would you like to give to students, particularly who have been deprived of getting opportunity for going to college for their further study?
First of all, I would like to request all the students and the guardians to remove the misconception that open distance learning education is not equivalent to an academic degree of a general college. The degree awarded by an open university has equal value with the degree of general university. Our college is running programs in affiliation to Indira Gandhi Open University and registered to Ministry for Education, Nepal. So, it is strong in legal aspect, too. It is a legitimate academic institution run by fulfilling all required criteria. Second, the college offers an array of courses in various streams as per need and demand of students. Therefore, students have multiple options to choose. Third, students who have strong will to be awarded a higher degree, ICA is fully committed to fulfilling their desire. So, I suggest students, particularly those who are deprived of getting regular classes, their best destination could be ICA for acquiring a higher education irrespective of their locations.