Put resources into international online learning, task force recommends. Rebecca Attwood reports

Universities should seize the rapidly growing international market in online learning, but doing so will require investment, a panel of experts has said.

The final report from the government’s Online Learning Task Force, which includes experts from Microsoft, Apple and Pearson, calls for an injection of £100 million over five years to expand the UK’s online provision and boost its brand.

It warns that private providers are moving into the international online market “quickly and aggressively”.

Meanwhile, the growing use of IT in schools is changing students’ expectations of the technology that will be available at university, and the introduction of higher tuition fees could open up a new domestic market as more students consider studying online.

“The higher education sector has been talking about the potential of online learning for well over 10 years. The moment has come if we wish to remain and grow as a major international player in higher education,” says Dame Lynne Brindley, chair of the task force and head of the British Library, in the introduction to the report, Collaborate to Compete: Seizing the Opportunity of Online Learning for UK Higher Education.

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