chapter  10
11 Pages

Quality Assurance in Open Universities

In 1988, there were 10 open universities in the 54 countries of the

Commonwealth. Today, there are 27. There are four in Africa, with four more

in planning, India has 14, catering to 25% of all enrolments in higher educa-

tion, and Asia has over 70 open universities and the largest number of adult

open and distance learners in the world. This trend is likely to continue. Half

the world’s population of 6.5 billion is aged under 20 years and there are two

billion teenagers in the developing world. By 2020, the World Bank predicts

that to achieve sustainable economic development, 40-50% of the global

workforce will need to be tertiary qualified ‘knowledge-workers’. With access

to tertiary education currently at less than 10% of the relevant age group in,

for example, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, existing institutions simply

cannot cater for the rising demand. Universities that are open to people

without formal academic qualifications and which teach by means of distance

education, online learning or mixed-mode study will continue to be the only

viable option for millions. The issues of the quality of these open universities

become ever more pressing.