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November 2, 2006

Net tutors a world away from pupils


In a new twist on outsourcing, parents are hiring tutors who live overseas to coach their kids.

Offshore e-tutors predominantly from India are much cheaper than face-to-face coaches, and are the latest to compete for the burgeoning private tutoring market in the US.

''There's been an explosion of interest in tutoring kids online in the past 24 months and a recent phenomenon of online companies emerging from overseas,'' said Steven Pines, executive director of the Education Industry Association.

In New York, the fee for face-to-face tutors can range from about $65 to $260 an hour.

US-based firms that do online tutoring and for the most part use instructors located in North America charge private customers $40 an hour or more.

Then there's TutorVista, one of at least seven companies that operate from India.

Its monthly fee is $130 for unlimited use.

The firm, based in Bangalore, says its 2000 students in the US log an average 12 to 15 hours a month.

That breaks down to between $10.80 and $8.60 an hour.

Online tutoring hit the headlines in the US last week when New York's Education Department suspended a contract it had with an online tutoring firm whose instructors were from India, claiming the company, Socratic Learning, violated rules to have tutors fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check.

TutorVista, which currently provides tutoring only to private customers, says it is very conscious of security, and to provide safeguards it does ''professional and personal reference checks'', records all sessions, and randomly monitors live sessions.

About TutorVista

TutorVista's mission is to provide world class tutoring and high-quality content to students around the world. TutorVista is the premier online destination for affordable education-anytime, anywhere, in any subject. Students access TutorVista from the convenience of their home or in school and use TutorVista's comprehensive lessons and question bank to master any subject with access to a live tutor around the clock. The TutorVista idea: help students to excel in school and at competitive examinations. The management team consists of professionals from education, training and Internet fields whose expertise spans eLearning, instructional design, technology-based learning, professional services management, and Internet technologies. For more information, go to