Feeds

MP slams failed online university

'Shameful waste' of public money

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

An online university that cost the government £62m to set up has been closed down having failed to attract enough students. Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP and chair of science and technology committee at the Commons has condemned the scheme, UKeU, as a "shameful waste" of public money, and an "absolute disaster".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Gibson said that those who ploughed public money into the venture should be publicly censured. He also called on the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to explain its role in the affair.

The online university was intended to act as a portal, selling other universities' online degree programmes. It was a joint venture between the government, the universities that signed up and Sun Microsystems, which provided the platform supporting the whole thing.

According to the BBC, the plug was pulled on the scheme in February this year, and says it is now being "quietly dismantled". The UKeU bills this process as restructuring, and said it would transfer some of its activities.

The Hefce sent consultants in to investigate in December 2003. Their report, which was leaked to the BBC, criticised the management's lack of focus, and said the marketing was based "more on optimism than market-led judgements".

Shortly after the report was filed, Hefce pulled the plug on funding the organisation it is current form.

Even so, Hefce maintains a very strong public defence of the e-university. It says that things have changed considerably in the time since the venture was set up in 2001, the very tail end of the dotcom glory days.

Despite a prolonged publicity effort, the e-university only attracted 900 students. Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons education select committee, said that the public cost per student had been £44,000. El Reg's sums put the figure at closer to £70,000.

The whole affair will be examined by the Commons education select committee in June. ®

Related stories

UK gov gets school IT gold star
RIAA tax could add millions to education fees
EU thundering down information superhighway

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.