Keith Hampson’s Higher Education Management Group has an interesting discussion of the recent report from the UK:
Online Learning Task Force (2011) Collaborate to compete: seizing the opportunity of online learning for UK higher education Sheffield UK: Higher Education Funding Council of England and Wales
The report basically makes six recommendations (summarized by Keith), but notes that all these recommendations are likely to be familiar to experienced people working in online learning.
Keith’s own comments on the report highlights the importance of scale (hence collaboration and public-private partnerships) for the successful marketing of programs overseas, and also the need for some hard market research on demand and other providers.
I would have also added the need to provide online programs in such a way that they can easily be adapted or modified for local context – again suggesting the need for local partners when delivering internationally.
Given the dire circumstances of UK universities, here in Canada we should expect some aggressive marketing of online programs from the UK in the next few years. However, it will be a tough sell, given the continually expanding inventory of quality online programs in Canada. The bottom line is that local institutions in general have a head start with students in their own area. They have to be pretty awful for students to start looking elsewhere.
Nevertheless, there are still many Canadian institutions who have not seen the importance of online learning and they will be the ones most likely to feel the pinch from foreign competition – unless they are willing to be the local partners in delivering UK programs.