Letter from the Director – When Education Costs Too Much

As someone who deeply values education, it was heart breaking for me to read earlier this month of a strike at a University.  Not of overworked educators trying suffering under further government mandates.  No this strike, at the University College of London was unusual in that it was the students who were striking.  The nature of the strike was also surprising – this was a strike over rent.  The cost of renting at the Universities Halls had risen so high that it had provoked a backlash of angry students, withholding over £250,000 in rent unless the rent was slashed by 40%. 

This perhaps shouldn’t be entirely surprising – London is an incredibly expensive city to live and work in and seems to be getting more expensive all the time.  Still, traditional education in its cumbersome ways still likes to demand students spend upwards of thirty five hours a week engaged in study on their course.  

There is, of course, a fair argument to be made that students should shoulder part of the burden of the costs of their studies.  There’s a long tradition of part-time students working to fund their way through colleges and universities which has merit both in having the student pay their own way and providing crucial experience of working in the real world. 

But it’s a little disturbing when the cost of education rises so high that a student is forced to work full time and study full time, effectively holding down two jobs.  Personally, I believe that the reality is that the old inflexible model of studying on a traditional campus is in need of urgent reform.   There is only so many hours in a day that a student can devote whether to study or to work to finance that study. 

That’s why distance learning education is so helpful.  It’s flexible and fits around the student.   For the financially solvent student with money in the bank and the time and drive to put in 60 hours a week into pure study an early finish can be achieved, while for those whose lives change so that they must earn more and have less time for study, a distance learning program offers the flexibility to reduce the amount of time dedicated towards the qualification allowing for the books to be balanced.

In both cases, the student isn’t forced to withdraw from the course for lack of time or money.   In both cases, the student can pace themselves towards the completion of their course and reach their end goals.  In a world that so often demands 24/7 flexibility, it’s not just a crying shame that so many traditional universities persist with inflexible learning models it’s a mistake.   Student’s don’t have to put up with this, and be it through direct action or simply talking with their wallets and taking their custom elsewhere, other options remain open. 

Until next time.

Daryl Tempest-Mogg

Academy for Distance Learning

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