Traditional UK Universities Slow to Adopt Distance Learning

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It has become apparent to ADL that the delivery of courses by the leading Universities of the UK has suggested a slow uptake in the development of online-learning centres and an apparent preference to maintain the status quo of institute based learning, catering exclusively to those students able to commit to years of study as a full-time student. 

Of 130 UK institutions that were qualified as UK recognized universities, less than one in five offered some form of fully flexible online learning option, defined as courses that can be taken at the time and place of the student’s convenience in a manner similar to the delivery of ADL’s own courses.  Institutions that were reported to offer truly flexible distance learning programmes included Anglia Ruskin University, The University of Essex and the University of York. 

While other institutions did offer some form of distance learning programme these were found to mostly be restricted to Master’s level courses and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes which were unsuitable for entry level students without a thorough background in the subject.  Most courses, however, came with restrictions and requirements on attendance that effectively prevent the option of learning from home should the student not have been domiciled near the institutions.

Theories from the report suggest that much of the apparent lack of innovation from UK Universities is the result of the extreme financial difficulties endured by many publicly funded institutions.  The lack of funds available to pursue new avenues of education, combined with already established requirements in premises and facilities, has resulted in a low rate of adoption for distance learning methods.  Instead, traditional universities continue to rely on the older systems of educating necessitating the physical presence of students on campus.

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