When it comes to online education, people on this side of the Atlantic are more with-it than their English speaking neighbors across the Atlantic. Yes, the UK was never a global leader in online education. But recently, things have started to change for the better. Brit students are also enrolling in online courses in large numbers. Mr. David Willetts, honorable Minister for Universities and Science is putting more emphasis on distance learning in order to cut down student relocation and boarding expenses. While tuition fees alone for some of the offline courses offered by UK universities reached £3,290 in 2011, the total cost of earning an online degree sticking to £3,500 might be a reason why so many UK students are choosing the online path of learning.
The educational revolution has become possible because of the emergence of advanced learning technologies. Higher Education Funding Council for England (a non-departmental public body) has a social Online Learning Task Force which found some interesting facts related to growing popularity. In its March 2010 report, the Task Force claimed that the ‘instant’ and ‘on-demand’ attitude of the students is working as a driving force for many of them to enroll in online degree programs. Brit learners are now increasingly using online learning technologies to pursue higher education.
However, deep inside the situation is a bit different. It’s not that quite a few UK universities are offering completely online courses for students who are geographically separated. It is the traditional schools and colleges that are offering virtual learning environment and facilities to their existing enrollees. There are only a handful of colleges that offer truly online courses accessible by anyone irrespective of their geographic location and other disadvantages. At present, more or less 2,600 distance learning courses are offered by different universities in the UK. of these, 1500 courses are offered by traditional schools whereas, on the other hand, 952 courses are being offered by open universities. Arund 175 courses are offered by UK universities in collaboration with commercial partners. In many of these courses, zero student attendance is acceptable. 60% of all these courses are of postgraduate level.
Though online curse enrollee numbers lagging behind by 60,000 as compared to the US figures, UK is gradually becoming a global online education giant. It won’t be unwise to predict that online education is taking off across the Atlantic. One more thing, UK universities now surpass their US counterparts in terms of appropriate usage of online learning technologies. The UK is catching the trend of e-learning, though in its own way.