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Could traditional universities be swept away by online competition?

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British universities have come under fire for failing to respond to the rise of online universities, and warned that they could be “swept away” by international competition.

A report into the future of higher education, An Avalanche Is Coming, suggests that British universities as we know them are facing an uncertain future, due to the impact of online universities.

Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser of the world’s biggest education firm, Pearson, believes that online learning could be a real threat but also a great opportunity for these institutions.

His main concern is that this “avalanche” could put middle-ranking universities in danger of closing and “standing still” is possibly the most dangerous tactic to employ.

The former Downing Street adviser added that too many universities are “doing the same thing” and he would be very surprised if such commotion did not mean the closure of some universities within the next 10 years.

Yet Sir Michael indicates that this progression towards online learning does not necessarily spell the end for traditional British universities, but instead offers an opportunity for them to adapt and thrive in a modern environment.

Sir Michael predicts that this more competitive landscape will see an overhaul of the traditional university model.

One of the biggest challenges universities need to tackle is not only the ability to adjust their academic material to cater for online learning, but moreover to revise the financial model by which students pay for tuition.

The existing undergraduate finance model, where students have to borrow government money for a three year study period, was designed for a time when university systems were domestic – but in the era of globalisation this will require reform.

This provides a perfect opportunity for people to look at online higher education alternatives such as Online Business School.

Their aim is to get a learner through to a university degree or MBA for less than £5000, although there are different costs associated with different pathways of study.

The OBS framework grants users with full access to a wide range of interactive tools and support, including student dashboards, a 24/7 networking forum and a panel of online tutors offering online webcasts and webinars.

The solution is flexible, as well as cost-effective, allowing precious time for students to plan their studies across the duration of the programme and the freedom to learn at their own pace.

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