You can now study at Oxford Uni online for free
Oxford University have announced they’ll be offering their first Massive Open Online Course (Mooc) in February 2017 completely free of charge.
Credit: Ben Seese – Flickr
With tuition fees set to rise across England again from next year onwards, the idea that a prestigious uni like Oxford would start offering courses free of charge seems too good to be true.
But thanks to the wonder that is the web, some of the highest ranking universities worldwide are getting involved with online learning platforms, as they’re keen to be seen at the forefront of technology and innovation.
Oxford have announced they’ll be taking their first step into the world of digital learning by offering their first ‘Mooc’ in February 2017. But is it worth your time?
The course that Oxford will be offering in February is an economics module called "From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development," and it’ll be taught by Sir Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government.
This is the first of what is set to be many digital courses offered by the Oxford, as they enter into a partnership with US learning platform, EdX.
EdX was launched by Harvard University and MIT, and really popular in the US – they currently have 9million enrolled students and offers around 900 courses from unis across the world, including some of the most prestigious.
What qualification does it give you?
It’s worth knowing that taking the course won’t give you any uni credits, but as with all MOOCs, you’ll receive a statement of accreditation if you pass (so will look dyno on your CV!).
At this stage, platforms like EdX are more about making top class education accessible to everyone, but there are signs that unis could start offering fully accredited degrees online in the future.
Could this be the future of uni learning?
Critics of online learning claim that quality teaching can’t be replicated online, and that digital learning is too impersonal.
But with the number of contact hours at universities notoriously dismal, and the student numbers rising now that the enrolment cap has being lifted, it's hard to sell sitting in a lecture hall with 200 other students as a 'personal' experience.
Daphne Koller, co-founder of another leading Mooc provider, Coursera, believes unis will begin offering fully accredited degrees online within the next five years.
She told the BBC:
I'm absolutely convinced that will happen – and it will be a lot earlier than 10 years. The societal need is there. A full-blown undergraduate degree – I'd be surprised if that didn't happen within five years.
Will it be fully online? Or will it have some residential components? That remains to be seen.
In fact, some UK unis have already started taking their first steps towards offering accredited degrees online.
The University of Leeds announced this year that they’ll be offering students the option to take online credits in exchange for a discount on tuition fees.
In a “try before you buy” effort, they’re allowing Geography students to take 10 credits online, and those who complete the module can skip part of their first year and get a discount.
Here's hoping this is a sign of things to come!
Did you know universities have started offering 'Buy one get one free' deals on degrees? Find out if you could be in for a discount!