Education for All

On this page, I want to collect all kinds of information on free (higher) education, access to education and online education, and student finance issues (student fees, grants, livelihood). In the moment, it is more of a sources page.

1. Online education with a political agenda

Not only are online offers easily adjustable in scale and seem to need less infrastructure, they also seem to be new editions of the old – and in some places very successful – idea of Open Universities, most prominently the Open University UK. Very open, very flexible, remote and accessible from virtually everywhere in the world. Two new institutions should be noted:

University of the People, – interview with Shai Reshefon University World News

University Now,

2. Online education with an academic or for-profit agenda

A study estimated that MOOCs require two to three times greater effort than a traditional course

So, do we need specialised institutions to offer online education? How can they finance their offers if they do not have other income? How can specialised online (higher) education be based on research, and how does it not cannibalise the traditional university system? (Or wouldn’t that be too bad?) How do fee-based further education offers figure into this picture? And how about research- instead of career oriented education?

3. Discussion of student finances

There are (at least) three elements to the discussion of student finances:

  • student fees
  • livelihood costs and
  • scholarships, grants, bursaries and loans

And these elements are linked to the non-trivial issues of

  • income-contingency of fees and grants
  • job market for students, rate of adult students in the system
  • framework for part-time students and
  • regulation of loan market.

Random information on these issues:

a) On March 11 2015 there was a conference of Universities UK on “Your student financial support model and its contribution to access, retention and success” @ProfLizThomas and others shared a lot of information on the issue of student finances in the UK (see #uuksfs). E.g., while Dearden et al 2013 found out that a £1000 increase in grants for lowest income students led to 3.95% increase in participation, OFFA’s national research apparently showed that bursaries have little impact on retention. (In the definition of OFFA, bursaries is money you get on the basis of your income, scholarships is based on other (e.g. academic) criteria.)

b) Just as bursaries help with widening access, but not necessarily with rentention, student fees do not necessarily limit access, but it might be they increase drop-out.

Data for the first insight is: HE participation by socio-economic background apparently is more dependent on alternative educational systems and degree of academisation of apprenticeships, general economic situation of the country and political will to increase HE participation than on student fees (see OECD comparisons from Education at a Glance). Data for the second insight might come from the same source (?) – it seems that countries with student fees have a higher drop out than those who don’t. But I am not sure yet if there is a correlation.

c) Bruce Chapman shared on University World News his insight on the growing number of countries offering income-contingent loans for students which were first introduced in Australia in 1989. Now, there are 8 countries which offer these conditions for loans.

d) In any case, there is a lack of knowledge about grants and scholarships in most European countries. See We don’t know enough, I would argue, how that influences access: I would assume that access to that kind of information is not equally distributed. Also, as always:  Time spent on researching scholarships etc. is time not spent on other things. Thus having NOT a one-stop-source for this kind of information might increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

And just as ordered, there is a new study out in the UK which shows that in low participation areas, there are few people searching for information about student aid.

e) The guardian just published a piece called Who should pay for university education?

While I cannot really answer that question, I am pretty sure that there will be a lot of different “whos”, a lot of different universities and also different kind of education. The question than will be: How did we manage to keep up the inequality dispite all our efforts?

One response to “Education for All

  1. Pingback: How can we open access to HE? | konosocio

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