British Report Calls for Greater Use of Online Learning to Meet Growing Demand

British universities and colleges must make online learning a priority to meet growing student demand and remain competitive in an increasingly international higher-education landscape, a new report warns. The report, "Collaborate to Compete: Seizing the Opportunity of Online Learning for U.K. Higher Education," was produced by a study group set up in 2009 by the government council that finances higher education in England. Its purpose was to maintain and develop the nation’s position as a world leader in online learning.

The report highlights several examples of innovative online learning strategies at British institutions, including the Open University, which, it says, "has developed its own style of online learning called ‘supported open learning,’ giving its 250,000 students flexibility to study when and where suits them best."

Another example the report cites is a partnership between the University of Essex and the for-profit Kaplan Open Learning to offer online courses in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

The report says that courses offered by those programs are "flexible, accessible, provide practical work-based skills, and can fit around work and family commitments which prevent students from attending a traditionally delivered course."

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