There’s no doubting the history of online education among UK institutions. The work of the Open University makes it a stand-out, and in the breadth of its offering, an international leader. Many traditional universities have offered online options for years, but their offerings have remained limited and positioned outside of the mainstream as the alternative to the real thing.
The UK (meaning providers, learners and employers) needs to embrace online learning quickly if its higher education sector isn’t to be left behind on the international stage. Overcoming scepticism will, of course, require a clear basis of regulation and maintenance of standards for all online programmes and a clear sense of differentiation for students between the accredited and non-accredited. In the US that has meant all online providers needing to gain accreditation through one of the regional accreditation bodies or the Distance Education and Training Council in order to be taken seriously.