With countless remote islands sprinkled about the Pacific and Indian oceans, many Asian countries are far removed from commercial stores, medical help, and quality education.

Yet even in countries unheard of in America, there are people eager to earn a degree in higher education, for job improvement and for the sake of expanding knowledge.

These isolated peoples often must sacrifice family time, leaving their country to study for years on mainland continents. But with the recent expansion of access to online degrees in Asia, those circumstances are lessening.

For example, The New York Times recently wrote an article featuring Abdulla Rasheed Ahmed, a citizen of Fuvahmulak island in the Indian Ocean’s Maldives’s. Ahmed desired to obtain a doctoral degree, and he was able to reach his goals with Asia e University, an institution offering online courses accessible in his city of Kuala Lumpur.

In the article, Ahmed said that online education is very suitable for a working person such as himself, in that it allows him to study anytime, anywhere. And in such a remote location, the “anywhere” is particularly significant.

A new kind of university model

Whereas most residents of such Asian islands formerly received bundled packages of books and class assignments via the postal service, the expansion of Internet service in their homeland is allowing these islanders the opportunity to join in a new model of education.

Online learning is growing rapidly in India and China, in particular. Countries with especially high-quality Internet service, including South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, have experienced exponential growth in the past year.

Asia e University

Asia e University is at the forefront of the online education competition, with a motto of “by Asians, for Asia.”

A European education style based on giving out quality learning, Asia e University collaborates with other institutions of higher learning such as EMC International Learning Centre, Auckland Institute of Studies, Australia, Kyungwoon University, Korea, and Rezzen (M) Sdn Bhd, Malaysia to offer accreditation, professional training and academic learning.

The university’s current enrollment of 5,000 students is mostly comprised of learners from Indonesia, Cambodia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, who use a combination of blended and online learning by attending local learning centers in their home countries.

The combination of learning styles helps bridge the language barriers for students less proficient in English, the native language of Asia e University.

Still, other student’s use the university tools entirely online, including students of lndia and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

Obstacles for online education

Internet connectivity remains of the biggest barriers for Asia e and other online universities striving to build a reputation against all odds.

In the New York Times article, G. Dhanarajan, an education consultant with the Asian Development Bank and honorary director of the Institute for Research and Innovation at Wawasan Open University, said it is impossible for governments to track which universities are most credible in the online learning world.

“All you can do is continue to try to educate your population. At some point there will be a level of sophistication that people will be able to discriminate for themselves,” he said in the article.

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