Students should be able to access government loans in order to study massive open online courses, a former education adviser to Tony Blair has said.
Sir Michael Barber, now chief education adviser at publishing and education company Pearson, pointed to the emergence of a new breed of “pick-and-mix students” who assemble their learning from a range of sources rather than taking traditional campus-based degrees.
Such students were entitled to funding, he argued.
“If you’re a student or a potential student, it is no longer a question of choosing a degree course you want to do at a university,” he said. “It’s a question of thinking…’How will I keep learning through my life, how do I combine a range of educational experiences not just from one university but also from a range of universities – potentially around the world?'”
Sir Michael, head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit from 2001 to 2005, was speaking ahead of the publication on 11 March of a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which warns of a coming era of unprecedented competition in higher education, driven by proliferating online opportunities.