How Online Courses Are Pushing the Price of Traditional Degrees Down

As the economic crisis continues to bite, many universities are trying to push fees up for undergraduates. The BBC recently (17th March) reported that over half of UK university heads want students to pay a minimum of £5,000 pounds a year, or to have no upper limit on fees at all. However, as enrollment numbers take a downturn for the first time in years, and institutions begin to offer more distance options – could online degrees begin to highlight that traditional courses are overpriced?

As the quality, and breadth of choice, of online courses increase – it seems that costs to enroll are typically far cheaper than the proposed £15,000 by those in charge of universities, at about £2,500 for an entire degree lam bang dai hoc . But also, it must be remembered that distance degrees are in competition with others on a global scale – and so in many areas are said to be going down in price. Particularly as countries such as India begin to jump on the distance learning bandwagon, and open content becomes ever popular.

However, the distance and online learning sector might be set to affect UK university fees more directly. Resource Development International have recently issued a press release that comments on the proposals for universities to push for higher fees. Philip Hallam states: “The call for a rise in tuition fees doesn’t really reflect any necessary increase in the delivery costs of quality education…many universities are investing in, for example, new buildings which are typically 50% utilized, and not allocating sufficient funds towards improving their use of efficient and effective learning technologies.”

Fees are frequently discussed year upon year, and the controversy of increasing them is usually concerning the debts that students incur. The BBC reports that, among others, the National Union of Students are angered, and want ‘to entirely replace the fee system with repayments linked to later earnings.’

University College London. With perhaps one of the best student to staff ratios at 9.1 per staff member according to The Times, University College London ranks highly overall at number 7. During the 06/07 year there were 19,385 students according to the HESA in total. 7,580 of these were postgraduates, and 2,320 of the undergraduates are international students from outside of the European Union.

University of Cambridge. The second oldest university in the English speaking world, Cambridge University has been in healthy competition with Oxford for many years. The university, as of 2006, has over 28,775 students and over a third of these are postgraduates, and according to the HESA there are more international post-grads (over 4000) than there are undergraduates from outside the UK.

University of Warwick. Although only established quite recently (1965), The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading university with a Times 2009 ranking of number 6. The university has a high Services and Facilities spend for its departments that range from Biological Sciences to Engineering. Based in Coventry and thus in an accessible location for Birmingham also, the institution 30,320 students (from 2006) with almost 10,000 of these being postgraduates.

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