Ready or Not - The Role of Online Learning in Higher Education
11-12 December, London
Registration          Submit a proposal (until 23Jun17)



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News Analysis Focus for 2017 – Online HE in 30 Countries
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International Branch Campuses - Trends and Developments 2016
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Attend our Global Forum

Ready or Not - The Role of Online Learning in Higher Education

11-12 December, London


Whatever you call it- online, digital, virtual, e-learning- it has been a rough ride. In the 1990's, champions imagined a near-future of dramatically better access to higher education, a wealth of online learning resources and plummeting costs. All over the world, students would be able to enrol at the best universities, and all but the top institutions would perish. Reality proved a bit more complicated.

Twenty years on, bricks-and-mortar universities are very much alive, and most international students still travel, but it is undeniable that online learning is growing in popularity. Internet access has surged, bandwidth exploded and smartphones are ubiquitous. MOOCs, adaptive learning and AI-based student advising are the latest examples of online education. A growing number of traditional universities are partnering with the private sector to launch online degrees.

Is online higher education about to realise its promise?

The OBHE's 2017 Global Forum will reassess the potential of online and blended learning in higher education, to meet the needs of domestic and international students. Drawing on a unique series of country studies from around the world, this event is an opportunity to engage with the latest data, learn from experience, and consider new models and technologies.


Submit a proposal



 19 June 2017

Joseph A Planell, President of the UOC, weighs in on the future of online HE in Catalonia, Spain

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

Spain’s Universitat Oberta Catalunya (The UOC) was the world’s first online university and it currently is the only fully online university with more than 20 years’ experience and more than 58,000 graduates. The UOC is a university specialised in e-learning and the knowledge society, providing people lifelong learning and educational opportunities through both formal and non-formal training, contributing to their occupational and personal development.

The UOC model is designed to be followed fully online and has an asynchronous nature. Exams are still the only element that require physical presence of the student. Nevertheless, one of the UOC’s stated objectives is to replace them by online evaluation processes, as identity verification systems are implemented.

In terms of research, the UOC expertise lies in the study of the Internet and the effects of the interaction between digital technologies and human activity.

In the academic year 2015-2016, UOC reports:

• 61,122 graduates and 76,072 qualifications issued, comprising 30 ECTS credits or more each.
• 63,873 students.
• 374 full-time and 3.167 part-time professors.
• More than 150 collaboration agreements with other universities



15 June 2017

Battling the Great Recession:
Online Higher Education in Spain

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

Spain is a distance learning pioneer: in 1972 the federal government founded one of the world’s first national distance learning universities, the National Distance Education University (UNED), and in 1995 the region of Catalonia created a ground breaking online university, the Open University of Catalonia (UOC).

What does online higher education, distance and blended, look like in Spain today?

This article looks at the status of online learning in Spain and how it grew during the country’s economic crisis beginning in 2008, as well as its current direction and potential for the future.

Full article available for members.


11 May 2017

MOOCs to the Rescue -
Taking stock of 20 years of online HE in Malaysia

Doria Abdullah, OBHE Associate
Postdoctoral fellow, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Malaysia has a 20-year history with online learning, spanning infrastructure investment, new universities and, more recently, an effort to harness MOOCs.

Wave 1 (late 1990s): Cyber-infrastructure and integration of technology and education 

It all began with a vision to transform Malaysia into a knowledge-based society. The government aspired to integrate information technology across a broad range of sectors such as government services, commerce, education and urban planning, among others. The Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), envisioned as a chain of tax-efficient industrial clusters and business incubators, was introduced in 1996. The centerpiece was Cyberjaya, a township thirty minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), attracting a range of multinationals, such as IBM, DHL and HP and housing new agencies such as the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDeC) and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).

The private Multimedia University (MMU) was established in Cyberjaya in 1999, tied to Telekom Malaysia (TM), the country’s communications service provider, to provide a steady stream of graduates versed in the latest technologies. MMU is a campus-based institution- now with three campuses in Malaysia- but has a growing presence in blended and online learning.

In mainstream education, at the primary and secondary level, selected schools were transformed into “smart schools” (‘Sekolah Bestari’) that prioritised multimedia courseware and online resources. Schools outside of the initiative were given special funding for laptops, broadband and teacher training. At the tertiary level, learning management systems (LMS) were introduced.

Full article available for members.





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Forthcoming Events


28-29 June 2017:  International AHE Conference, Manchester, UK

4-6 July 2017:  Higher Education Academy Annual Conference 2017 Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight, Manchester, UK

7-9 July 2017:  British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) Conference: 'Educational Leadership for a Global Society – Challenges, Dilemmas and Ways Forward', Ettington Chase, Stratford-on-Avon, UK

23-24 August 2017:  The Singapore Education Technology Conference (SETC 2017), SINGAPORE

12-15 September 2017:  EAIE 2017, 'A Mosaic of Cultures', Seville, SPAIN

18-20 September 2017:  International Conference on e-Learning and e-Technologies in Education (ICEEE), Lodz, POLAND

11-13 October 2017: Conference of the Americas on International Education, Montreal, CANADA

12-14 October 2017:  Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU), 'Global Engagement and Social Responsibility: Higher Education’s Role in Addressing Global Crises', New Orleans, USA

17 October 2017:  Westminster Higher Education Forum, 'The future for international research partnerships: responding to Brexit, the Newton Fund and new partnerships', London, England

17-19 October 2017:  27th International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) World Conference, Toronto, CANADA

18-20 October 2017:  IAU 2017 International Conference,'Leadership for a changing public-private funding higher education landscape', Accra, GHANA

25 – 27 October 2017:  The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference (OOFHEC2017), Higher education for the future: 'accelerating and strengthening innovation', Milton Keynes, England

26-27 October 2017:  European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL), Porto, PORTUGAL

2-4 November 2017:  Global  Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS)2nd World Congress on Global Access to Postsecondary Education: Working Together for a Democratized Postsecondary Education, São Paulo, BRAZIL

14 November 2017:  Westminster Higher Education Forum, 'Next steps for developing the 2021 Research Excellence Framework', London, ENGLAND

14-16 November 2017:  MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum: 'Strengthening the Dialogue between Higher Education, Government and Industry – Working Together towards a Common Vision', Dubai, UAE

21 November 2017:  Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, Next steps for international student recruitment in the UK - changes to the visa system and promoting the UK as a destination post-Brexit, London, UK

23-25 November 2017:  European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF), Riga, LATVIA

11-12 December 2017:  OBHE Global Forum, 'Ready or Not - The Role of Online Learning in Higher Education', London, UK


16 January 2018:  Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, 'The future of Transnational Education - developing international branch campuses, cross-border quality assurance and priorities for growth', London, UK

14-15 February 2018:  The 16th Annual Washington International Education Conference, Washington, DC, USA

18-21 February 2018:  AIEA Annual Conference, 'The Internationalization Imperative in Turbulent Times', Washington, DC, USA

10-13 March 2018:  ACE 2018 - 100th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, USA

25-29 March 2018:  Comparative and International Education Society (CIES),'Re-Mapping Global Education' South-North Dialogue, Mexico City, MEXICO

5-6 April 2018:  European University Association (EUA) 2018 Annual Conference, Zurich, SWITZERLAND

23-26 April 2018:  Scholars at Risk Global Congress, Berlin, GERMANY

2-4 May 2018:  Going Global, 'Redesigning Excellence: Higher Education for Global Societal Impact', Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA

27 May - 1 June 2018:  NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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International Branch Campuses
Trends & Developments 2016

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