The controversy surrounding university tuition fees continues, as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warns UK universities that favouring online learning could lessen public support for current costs.
The OECD’s Director for Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher, has argued that online learning fails to provide all the benefits of the university experience. He said that universities no longer provide ‘value for money’, as students miss out on many networking and socialising opportunities.
Schleicher added that he thinks universities opting for online formats will face a “real challenge” in preventing students from opting for alternative tuition providers.
University of Leeds said that they expect to be able to provide students with a “substantial and sustained curriculum-based, on-campus experience” this semester, though controversially most large lectures will continue to be held online even when no legal limits on such gatherings exist.
A petition created by student William Huddie demanding a full return to in-person teaching was signed by over 4,500 people ahead of the start of term.
Students in England pay higher fees than in any other developed country and international students opting to study in the UK are obliged to pay even more. With no access to UK student loans, they must therefore pay their fees up-front.
Former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has indicated that universities need to reimplement face-to-face learning as much as possible this term.
His successor, Nadhim Zahawi, now faces the decision of whether or not to approve the government-commissioned cut to tuition fees, calling for the new cap to be set at £7,500.
Photograph: University of Leeds