Feeds

MP slams failed online university

'Shameful waste' of public money

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.