Online classes ‘would not justify high university fees’
Students in England pay some of the highest tuition fees in the world – but that will not be sustainable if much of the teaching stays online, says an international education report.
Students will also expect the “social life of campus”, says a report from the OECD group of industrialised countries.
The report also warned of huge regional differences in graduate numbers.
The proportion of graduates in London’s working-age population is 79% higher than the north-east of England.
Record numbers of UK students are going to start at university this term – and the annual report from the OECD says those in England will pay higher tuition fees for public universities – £9,250 per year – than any other developed country.
Value for money
This doesn’t include some of the prestigious private universities, such as in the United States, but OECD education expert Andreas Schleicher suggested that students at English universities will expect to have much more than online lessons for such high fees.
“I think this is going to be a real challenge,” said Mr Schleicher.
“Students go to university to meet great professors, to watch with colleagues, to experience a social life,” he told an event launching the report, which compares education systems around the industrialised world.
If too much of university life remained online, he said, it would fundamentally challenge the “value proposition” of tuition fees.
Universities had to put much teaching online during the pandemic – and last week the former education secretary Gavin Williamson warned universities that they needed to return to face-to-face tuition this term as much as possible.
Universities UK says the “vast majority” of teaching and socialising will be in person, but some large lectures might remain online for “public health reasons”.
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