Open Universities Australia (OUA), a pioneer of online learning, has experienced a 100 per cent increase in enrolments over the past four years. And the Australian experience is no exception, all over the world an increasing number of students are studying for degrees without ever leaving their desks at home.
Of the 55,000 students studying with the OUA, 65 per cent are female with the 10 most popular courses are primary school teaching, criminology, communications, study skills, education, accounting, management, information technology, marketing and behavioural sciences.
"The expansion in student numbers is a reflection of the attractiveness of online education to fit with our students’ lifestyles and work commitments," says Paul Wappett, OUA chief executive. "The online world is becoming an increasingly attractive option to students, so universities will need to combine the best of face-to-face teaching with online learning to meet their demands." Studying online for an MBA is so popular in Australia that there is an entire website dedicated to inform the public of all Australian programmes available over the internet. http://www.mbaonline.com.au/. With Curtin Business School and Deakin University two Australian schools are also on the Financial Times’ list "Online MBA 2012".
In the United States, several prestigious Ivy League universities are putting more and more of their courses on the web, free to anyone anywhere - but without offering credits. Recently Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent 30 million dollar each to make many of their courses available online free of charge. When Stanford University Professor Sebastian Thrun put his introduction to artificial intelligence course online last year, 160,000 students from all over the world enrolled. Now Thrun resigned from Stanford and launched a virtual university called Udacity in January. He hopes it will attract 500,000 students, reports University World News. 90,000 have signed up in the first eight weeks.
In Europe, the UK-based Open University Business School (OUBS) is named by the Financial Times as “one of the world’s most experienced business schools in distance learning. 40 per cent of the school’s MBA students enrol from outside the UK. OUBS combines sheer size – more than 5,000 students are enrolled on the MBA programme and more than 30,000 in the business school overall at any time – with rigorous teaching. Research from the OU is rated in the top third of UK university research, according to the FT.
Rebecca Taylor, the new dean of OUBS, does not believe that distance learning has to be a lonely experience. OUBS is very personal, she insists, with 800 associate teachers around the world. After only six months in the head office of the school she wants to review the international partnership portfolio. She also plans to introduce a suite of new programmes. These could be specialised master degrees in finance, marketing and human resource management.
The Open University Business School
Part-time MBA, Distance MBA