On the island of Fuvahmulak in the Maldives, a cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, Abdulla Rasheed Ahmed’s options for acquiring a doctoral degree were somewhat limited, writes Liz Gooch for the New York Times.
“The nearest university is an hour’s flight from his home. And in any case, it doesn’t offer a doctorate in education, the program Mr Abdulla, a school principal, wanted to pursue.
“Having already taken time off to complete his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Malaysia, Mr Abdulla was reluctant to take more time away from his job or family, so he enrolled in Asia e University, an institution in Kuala Lumpur that offers online courses.
“Studying online is very suitable for working people,” Mr Abdulla said in a telephone interview. “You can study at anytime, anywhere, regardless of your location.”
Some universities have long specialized in such distance education, but now more homegrown Asian institutions are seeking to tap the demand for higher education in underserved areas. And as Internet connectivity spreads, more students like M. Abdulla are realizing that their education options are no longer bound by geographical constraints — or even by the older model of distance learning, in which students received bundles of course materials in the mail.