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Education has never been as in today's rapidly changing world-where one thing is certain: that yesterday's educational system will not meet today's demands. The development of the human capital is the main factor in the over all development of countries. Distance education has proved to be the right alternative to the conventional system as it is not only cost-effective but has the potential to reach out to large segments of the population.

In both developed and underdeveloped countries, distance education has established itself as an important component of higher and adult education. This book considers the experience of the various types of distance education systems that have emerged in the developing countries. At a time when new technologies are emerging and are changing the nature of education, such an in-depth study of the practice of distance education in general. and the open university in particular, at the national and international levels becomes imperative.
The emergent collaborative network in the system have been outlined, keeping in view the growing need and relevance in today's context. The authors have offered valuable insights to the present scenario.

For the first time, the Indian distance education system has been reviewed in a holistic perspective. The areas and issues relating to the openness, delivery systems and funding of distance education in general and open universities in particular, have been critically examined. In an attempt to eliminate biases and improve current image perceptions about the "quality" of distance education, the authors have suggested the incorporation of the market philosophy and orientation.

Twenty five years ago it was only a prophesy that the home would be at the center of society, in which work, education, service consumption and leisure would be mediated through new technologies. What was a prophesy then, is becoming more than a reality today because of the electronic revolution powered by the developments in the Information and Communication Technologies (las), particularly the internet and the world wide web. These new las have not only changed the traditional sources of knowledge but have also altered the mode of delivery, instructional methods and even the sites and places of learning.

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This dramatic technology -driven change is penetrating and transforming the fabric of higher education all over the planet, both because of its scope and speed and its global reach. It has struck at the very heart of the conventional system as well as the open and distance learning system, at the same time opening the doors to new competitors like industry, corporate houses, etc., which have expanded the reach and range of education, making it possible to deliver education, anywhere, anytime across the globe. Globally more and more institutions of higher education are adopting las as a means of achieving competitive advantage, as well as to meet the upswing in demand for their services.

The main thrust of this books is to examine and explore the wide range of initiatives that are taking place allover the world, which have been presented in the form of 34 detailed case studies, covering virtual universities, dual modeh universities and open universities, from both the developed and developing countries around the world. Contributors to this resource are well known Vice Chancellors of reputed universities, internationally renowned theorists, distinguished policy makers, leading practitioners and others in the field of open and distance education. These case studies document the major global trends, changes and issues in the arena of higher education specifically with reference to virtual, distance and open learning and detail the variety of initiatives being undertaken across the planet to cope with the rapidly changing scenario.

The epilogue truly embodies the vision of the visionaries, "the who's who of Distance Education" today. Eminent scholars and policy makers like, Desmond Keegan, Michael Moore, Ing Carlos Cruz Limon, Tam Sheung wai, Xingfu Ding, Mary Oakes Smith, Anthony Melck, David Hardy etc., have envisioned what Open and Distance Learning would be in the new millennium.

The diversity and richness of the content in this volume will serve as a major source of information and knowledge not only for students, distance educators, researchers and policy makers around the globe, but also for industrialists and business executives who are players in the global higher education marketplace.

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