Life changing online work-based degrees start now

Published: 25 January 2006 at 15:55

Anglia Ruskin University is offering potential higher education students a degree with a difference - it is not based on a specific subject but the work that people do and it is delivered 100 percent online.

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The Ultraversity degree course, now recruiting students for its February intake, is a 'virtual' degree in that students do not have to attend University as a conventional student but rather research their way to a degree qualification by studying their own job as they work at their own pace, from the comfort of their own home. All that is required is a computer and Internet access so that people can study from wherever they live in the UK.

This new BA (Hons) Learning Technology Research degree is attracting much new interest in the UK. Now in existence for over four years, the degree course at Ultraversity will this year see over 250 people, who have chosen this alternative route to higher education, graduate.

Much of the degree is based around action inquiry and reflective thinking, which means the students, or 'researchers', will look at specific areas of their work in order to find ways to improve. Researchers on the programme share ideas and work collaboratively in online communities. There are no set examinations to sit as work, which is submitted electronically, is assessed regularly throughout the three year degree period. Learning facilitators, who are university lecturers, work with students throughout their time on the programme.

Explains, Richard Millwood, Director of Ultralab

"The Ultraversity degree is e-learning taken to its most personalised level allowing learners to negotiate their study to fit their needs but gain from an ever-present community of like-minded others for support. For an increasing number of people it is the only way to learn. It is a method of study that can be applied to anyone who works and many people who don't. We have researchers who are from business and industry, the healthcare sector, education and many from the creative industries as well as parents and carers who want to improve their education while they are based at home."

"The idea could one day become mainstream in higher education, in a similar way that email has taken over a one of the dominant methods of private and business communication."

Researcher Susan Melvin, Business Adviser with Thurrock Local Enterprise Agency, said:

"I am hoping that this degree course will help me to investigate the changing needs of our clients and the best way to deliver the best service we can. I do feel that the course is relevant because it is work based and flexible. From the first module I have identified my strengths and weaknesses and my opportunities for further learning. I can also apply my research to achieving better communication with my colleagues and clients."

"One of the greatest benefits for me is that I can send and read messages at a time which is convenient to me,"

says Marion Cope, Community Nurse

"and this is not usually at work!!"

Carole Tonner, Advisory Teaching Assistant added:

"My role as Advisory Teaching Assistant was the first of its kind in the country. I am based in the Children Families and Learning Department within the local authority. Enrolling onto this degree course has enabled this role to develop. All the skills that I have learnt have proved valuable; the degree has given me a more purposeful role and secure place, now and in the future."

This innovative approach to undergraduate education pioneered by Ultralab, at Anglia Ruskin University, is an example of a successful e-learning initiative that has pulled together many of the best ideas in higher education and developed them into an experience that meets the needs of many 21st century learners. This degree programme, targeted at people in full time employment, in jobs they enjoy, gives them the opportunity to re-evaluate their career direction and take positive steps towards career enhancement.

Over two years, the degree has demonstrate high standards can be achieved by nurturing students' natural motivation to learn and interest in their own context, and has proved that widening participation in higher education is not watering down.

Course fees are substantially lower than conventional degree courses at just £850 a year.

For more information or to register an interest in the BA (Hons) Learning Technology Research, contact Ultralab on 01245 252009 or email or visit