Document Details

Title Online Higher Education in England: Explaining distance learning decline
Author Richard Garrett, Director OBHE and Carolyn Walker, OBHE Associate, - The OBHE


This article looks at the progress of online higher education in England. The main focus is online distance learning, but there is also discussion of blends between online and campus.

England is a special case, featuring a big distance learning footprint for both domestic students and international students offshore. The country encompasses one large specialist institution, the Open University (which operates throughout the UK), a large offshore distance provider, University of London International Programmes, and a growing number of conventional universities that offer online degrees. But what is surprising is that domestic distance enrolment is in decline, and is flat for transnational students. What is going on?

Our primary concern is England but some of the online initiatives and data discussed span the United Kingdom. Distance learning plays a role in Scottish and Welsh higher education but these are beyond the scope of this article. While there are many organisations, public and private, offering online courses at various levels and for a range of purposes, the focus here is higher education institutions (HEIs). The vast majority of HEIs in England are required to report enrolment to HESA, the UK’s higher education statistics agency, but a few private providers are not.

Date 25/10/2017
Region(s) Europe
Countries United Kingdom
Theme(s) Transnational Education (TNE) Models
Topic(s) Online Learning

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