Universities Should Not Go To E-Learning To Cut Costs, Minister Says
Universities should not opt for online learning instead of face-to-face teaching to cut costs, a minister said.
In-person teaching has been allowed at universities for all courses since May, after the Covid lockdown measures mean some degrees have only been online for months.
But even though there are no more restrictions on face-to-face learning, a number of universities have decided to keep some virtual elements.
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said on Wednesday that online learning can be helpful – but shouldn’t be done to cut costs.
“Students are consumers, they have rights. They should get what they were told they were going to get, ”she told the education select committee.
“But it’s not as simple as saying that online is bad, that face-to-face is good, because in some scenarios it can add up, but it should never be used as a downsizing exercise. costs.”
She said that an online offering can “improve learning” and some students have asked for it.
But she told MPs: “Online should never be used as a cost-cutting exercise or to devalue or remove education, and we’re very clear.
“I am writing to the Vice Chancellors this week once again on this subject to reinforce our message on this subject.”
The government has said it expects universities to resume offering face-to-face education, including lectures, now that the restrictions have been lifted.
University of Bristol Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Tansy Jessop said around a third of learning takes place online.
She told MPs: “I think if we turned off all of our online media they would be quite anxious. “
Other universities that have decided to continue to provide online education include the University of Liverpool, the University of Kent and University College London.
The University of Portsmouth said students want to “keep some of the positive changes” blended learning offered last year and therefore keep some components online this term.
Universities UK, which represents more than 100 institutions, said universities are “maximizing face-to-face opportunities” this quarter given last year’s restrictions, but some things, such as large conferences, may still be available. online “where there are advantages for students or for public health reasons”.
Additional reporting by the Press Association