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close this bookDistance Education in Engineering for Developing Countries - Education Research Paper No. 13 (DFID, 1995, 102 p.)
close this folderSection 7: Cost-effectiveness
View the document(introduction...)
View the document7.1. The distance learning provider
View the document7.2. The purchaser
View the document7.3. Importance of student support
View the document7.4. Benchmark measurements
View the document7.5. Student fees

7.3. Importance of student support

Many of the cost savings identified by employers as arising from distance methods are those achieved through the use of trainees' own time as they study independently, frequently at home. It is clear, however, that there are dangers: independent study can easily become isolated study and carries the risk of delayed/slow completion and of dropout.

Support for the learner is therefore vital. This should be provided either by the educational institution or through an integrated and structured company training programme which might involve some form of mentoring. Good distance education practitioners would employ student support strategies routinely in the form of: academic tutors, personal tutors, telephone and face-to-face sessions, newsletters and other networks. Such support tends to be labour- and therefore cost-intensive, but lack of support for open learners can actually reduce overall cost-effectiveness by contributing to an increase in dropout rates, or delayed/slow completion of training programmes through demotivation and isolation from tutors and from peer groups.