University of Ibadan Distance Learning students enjoyed equal right as the full time students
University of Ibadan comprises two undergraduate program or mode of learning, viz; Regular or Full-time and DLC or Par time. It is often misconceive that students on the regular mode are the real student while the distance learning students are second class due to the difference mode of entry into the University. Although it is not strange to think the word ‘regular’ should have its opposite as ‘irregular’. One of the meanings attached to that word is ‘bona fide’ which indicates the authenticity of an affiliation. This can be aptly related to the academia. Certain yardsticks are used to judge the status of students. Chief among them is the matriculation number assigned to individual students.
In this light, irregular students could be seen as those who do not belong to the academia as legitimate students. Such may not have been offered admission or probably stripped of their studentship for varying reasons, yet maintain wanton affiliation with the institution. It is then sufficed to say that students are not considered legitimate until they have a matriculation number and administered the matriculation oath by the Registrar of the university at a defined matriculation ceremony.
In the advent of Open Distance Learning (ODL) which is widely gaining acceptance in the Nigerian education terrain, candidates who subscribe to the ODL platform are not considered as regular students for obvious reasons. They are not engaged in face-to-face interaction with lecturers. Does this make them less bona fide students of an institution as their counterparts on the conventional mode? This concern is premised on the skeptical attitude of academics, university staff, parents/guardians and the public at large. It is expressed in the context of dual mode universities who run the regular and ODL modes of educational delivery.
Open Distance Learning is undeniably registering its imprint in the educational landscape of Nigeria. It the indubitable solution to access in the contemporary crave and pursuit of university education. Undoubtedly, the platform was established with the working class in mind. However, the reality of inadequate space to accommodate prospective candidates has been a major challenge in the tertiary education sector. For this reason, many fresh school leavers are now subscribing to the Open Distance Learning (ODL) mode of educational delivery which an institution like the University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre (UIDLC) represents. This is a welcome development; however, this trend is underlined by the dichotomy between the two modes of educational deliveries. The discrimination in some spheres is obvious, subtle in others. Basically, this trend is somewhat rooted in the mindset that the opposite of regular in a dual mode university is irregular; hence ODL students are considered as second rated.
In the wake of preferred federal institutions not being able to admit up to ten percent of candidates who choose them as first and/or second choice through the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), many university admission seekers do not gain admission into the so called regular mode. Sadly, they miss admission every year not for lack of academic prowess or sound cognitive capacity but for inadequate space in the conventional university system. Modalities should be put in place by the few dual mode universities licensed by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to spur more candidates to come onboard their Open Distance Learning platforms. In its bid to open up this viable alternative to prospective students, the Management of the University of Ibadan enacted a policy which absorbs post-UTME candidates who excelled yet are unable to secure admissions on the regular mode of the university to the ODL mode. The policy explicitly states that this category of candidates would be exempted from obtaining fresh applications to subscribe to the ODL mode and offered automatic admission if they choose to switch to this alternative.
This depicts the profound position that if you are not on the regular mode, you are on the virtual mode which is one of the guiding philosophies of Open Distance Learning. Administrative procedures and educational deliveries are mediated by technology with limited physical contacts. This portends that the discrimination between the two modes of educational deliveries is absolutely uncalled for.
As a matter of fact, those on the ODL mode are more privileged than their counterparts on the regular mode. The time advantage when managed with purpose in mind gives the former category an edge after graduation. Ventures regular students wait to engage in after graduation are those students on the ODL mode have delved into before graduation. This makes the virtual mode a more preferred platform.
With University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre as a case in point, the increasing patronage of Open Distance Learning is a clear indication that UIDLC is soaring higher on the ODL terrain. As the University of Ibadan registers another feat in the implementation of its parity of esteem policy by holding its first joint matriculation ceremony this year, it is noteworthy that the university has done a lot in erasing the lines of discrimination. It is indeed a welcome initiative that fresh learners on the University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre mode and their counterparts on the regular mode converge to be matriculated as bona fide students of the university.
The ‘regular’ nomenclature is a discriminatory idea if their counterparts on the Open Distance Learning mode are deemed and treated as irregular students. The opposite of regular mode in this context is simply ‘virtual mode’.