Factors affecting the drop-out rate on the Engineering degree programme at the Open University of Sri Lanka

Janaka Liyanagama
The Open University of Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) has been offering professional engineering programmes at diploma and degree levels since 1985 one the first ODL institution to offer engineering subjects through ODL. Although the OUSL has a network of centres throughout Sri Lanka, study programmes such the Engineering degree are conducted in only a few selected regional centres. Students have learnt specializations, including civil, electrical and mechatronics degrees, and over 650 engineering students have graduated in the past decade and a half. However, this is a relatively small number compared to the number of students who have registered for the programme on account of an unusually high drop-out rate. This paper examined the factors influencing the incidence of high drop-out, and identified the following causes: the mismatch between entry qualifications and expectations; problems in assimilating to the ODL mode of learning; difficulties in updating technical skills and knowledge for old employed students; poor language proficiency; job-related constraints; the physical distance to the central campus; not utilizing online teaching pedagogy fully; old age at the entry levels; and failure to balance leaning, work and family obligations.