The role of distance education in broadening access to Irish higher education

Delaney, Lorraine and Fox, S. (2013) The role of distance education in broadening access to Irish higher education. Other. UNSPECIFIED.


Although there have been distance education programmes offered by Irish Higher Education institutions for over twenty-five years, little is known about those who graduate from these online distance education programmes such as; their socio-economic profile, why they chose distance education and the effect that completing a distance education programme has had on their lives and careers. Drawing on preliminary results from a survey of distance education graduates, this paper seeks to begin to address the gap in the research on this cohort of graduates. This paper argues that online distance education is providing opportunities for higher education attainment, in a very flexible manner, to students from a highly diverse background, who often cannot access higher education any other way. Furthermore, online distance education can play an even greater role in extending access into the future. However, to achieve this potential, the funding model will have to change to that recommended by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 whereby ‘All students, whether full-time or part-time, on campus or off-campus, should be equally supported by the funding model used to allocate resources to and within institutions’ (DES 2011, p17).

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