More on Student Fees

Following the vote in House of Commons yesterday and the extensive press coverage of how the changes in state funding for universities could lead to insolvency for some new universities, we have started to receive a number of calls from concerned students. I thought it would be worth reminding people of what we said when the Browne review was published in October and answer three specific questions:

1. Does this mean OCA course fees are going to dramatically increase? No, while we cannot rule out some increases in the future the OCA is insulated from most of changes because it already receives only a small amount of money from the Government. We are a charity and I and our Trustees are committed to keeping fees as low as possible to widen access to our courses. You can read my fuller explanation from October here.

2. Bucks New University have been named as one of the universities where the cuts in funding could have a ‘high potential impact’, what does this mean for OCA students who have their degrees accredited by them? Bucks New University have been identified as belonging to a group of one third of universities who will find adapting to the change difficult. Our experience is that the University is well run and the Vice Chancellor, Ruth Farwell is entrepreneurial leader. OCA has validation arrangements with two universities, Bucks New University and the University for the Creative Arts. These two universities have chosen to validate our programmes because they recognise the quality of what offer. I do not anticipate any problems in the OCA being able to continue to offer our students degree programmes.

3 So, everyone else’s fees are going up massively, does this mean you are celebrating? Well no actually. I do think that relatively the OCA will look a more attractive option and as a consequence we will see enrolments grow. We are investing to support this, for example by developing new courses and degree programmes. So professionally, I think now is an opportunity for the OCA but personally I think the changes are going to be profoundly damaging to British society and the life chances of many young people. I am on the record as saying that one of the changes in particular is insane.

Gareth Dent
OCA Chief Executive
10 December 2010


    1. Gareth 25 March 2011 at 9:59 am

      Finally got round to reading this. Interesting indeed. I think the ‘open content’ model is very interesting, and at the OCA we currently have a mixed economy – course materials for students only, media content for everyone. However when Peter Scott says “Conventional universities are forced into this one-to-many, someone lecturing to a timetable, because they have buildings to fill…” I feel this is only part of the story. It neglects the key component which is tutor feedback – a video on the web is still ‘one to many’, it is just the many are not in the same place or necessarily watching at the same time. One can sit in front of content for years and not necessarily learn – it is the engagement, the struggle and the feedback and encouragement which makes the difference. The institutions which will be successful in the future will need to have efficient content distribution systems as a pre-requisite and superb 121 tuition. That’s where we see the future of the OCA.


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