first_imgE-universities scheme axed over poor take-up levelsOn 1 Jul 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Poor student take-up and a lack of private finance were the main reasons forthe failure of the Government-backed UK e-Universities (UKeU) company, which iscurrently being wound down and its activities transferred. When it was established in 2001, the public-private initiative aimed to makeUK higher education available worldwide through online degrees and courses, butdespite the availability of £62m of Government funding, UKeU only managed toattract 900 students by September 2003, way below its target of 6,500. “The problem was not one thing but lots of things,” said Dr LizBeaty, director of learning and teaching at the Higher Education FundingCouncil of England. “It was a big stretch for the company to go fromcreating learning and development materials, building a platform for delivery,and then doing all the marketing at the other end. We also didn’t get theprivate funding that we’d hoped for. This was partly due to factors such as thedotcom crash, since money wasn’t being put into e-learning at that time.” Beaty is keen to point out that the demise of the online venture isn’t areflection of e-learning’s abilities, but more that changes in the learninglandscape meant UKeU was no longer the right structure to deliver such learning.”E-learning has changed so much over the past few years,” shesaid. “Our recent research showed that universities and colleges are nowgetting into managed learning environments, but they want to do it in their ownway and build out from their core business rather than have a company do it forthem. “While it’s been disappointing, the sector [higher education] istelling us that it doesn’t want people to think it isn’t interested ine-learning, because that’s just not true. The message is that e-learning istaking off but in a more blended way, with a campus-based lead, rather than abig push out to distance learning.” Funding for the UKeU project totalled £50m, which includes a limited andfinal sum to facilitate restructuring and transferring its activities. Thebalance of the £62m originally provided by the Government, as well as otherfunds, will be used to support the development of e-learning in universitiesand colleges. Following the most recent board meeting by HEFCE in June, a number of its activitiesare being transferred, including the e-China programme (a Sino-UK e-learningproject), which will be project managed by the University of Cambridge and thee-Learning Research Centre. This will continue as a partnership between theUniversities of Manchester and Southampton, and the Higher Education Academy. By Sue Weekes Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img