Tajo el Castillo de Almourol, Portugal (from Flickr © Hamster Volador, Creative Commons License)

Tajo el Castillo de Almourol, Portugal (from Flickr © Hamster Volador, Creative Commons License)

Hasan, A. et al. (2009) Reforming Distance Learning Higher Education in Portugal Lisbon Portugal: Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education

This is a report to the Minister from an international advisory panel. It covers not only ‘pure’ distance education but also developments in e-learning in the traditional universities.

This report would provide an excellent case study for any students of higher education policy, as it covers supply and demand, policy, structural, quality, financial and legislative issues, while at the same time providing a pretty good insight to the current status of online and distance learning in Portugal.

It starts from a conclusion that despite recent reforms to Universidade Aberta (UAb) (see previous blog), distance education in Portugal is far less developed than in most European countries, with less than 3 per cent of enrolments in higher education in Portugal being in distance courses. In particular the range of programs offered at a distance is very limited, with a very small amount of distance learning being offered by the conventional institutions.

The report recommends not only expansion in programs at UAb, but also expansion in distance learning programs by the conventional institutions, mainly through the formation of voluntary consortia of institutions. In both cases, earmarked government funding will be necessary.

And this is where the difficulty lies. The panel had set out convincing reasons and evidence as to why there needs to be at a minimum a fourfold increase in funding for distance learning programs in Portugal, but Portugal has been hit particularly hard by the recession, so it will be interesting to see how the government responds to the recommendations in this excellent report.

The full report can be downloaded from the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities’ web site

Thanks to Re.Vica’s November 2009 newsletter for directing me to this report.



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