I have submitted my final report for the SCORE project to the funders. The report included the following reflections that I thought would be of interest to OERu network members:
Almost a third of the survey respondents in the UK said they did not know whether their institution was a member of the OERu network or not. This seems to imply that the OERu “brand” is not well known amongst university staff in the UK.
The OERu concept is not clearly understood in the UK. In particular, the fact that the qualifications given by the participating institution will be equivalent, in every sense, to the qualifications given to students studying via the mainstream route, appeared not to be clear to respondents. For example, I was frequently asked how employers would perceive the quality of an OERu award, on the assumption that students would have only a pile of certificates from different providers to show for their efforts.
The promise of collaboration with other HE institutions globally is a double-edged sword. In principle, the TOUCANS respondents could see the value of it, but in practice there appears to be significant reticence around collaboration, in large part because of the failure of an earlier (profit-making) collaborative initiative in the UK called the UK eUniversity. Also, The complexities of credit transfer, in combination with the quality assurance requirements of the QAA (Quality Assurance Association for Higher Education in the UK), make collaboration with other institutions along the lines envisaged by the OERu rather unattractive to UK HEIs.
The new fee structure for students in England is currently a significant obstacle to all attempts at innovation in higher education in the UK that are not seen to be directly related to recruiting and retaining fee-paying students. With the first cohort of students enrolling under the new regime for the new academic year starting in September 2012, this is likely to continue to be the primary concern for senior management for some time to come.
I would welcome feedback or comments on these reflections.