Inside Track | Expanding online education at Leeds

Margaret Korosec, Dean of Online and Digital Education, shares a view on how online degrees support lifelong learning at Leeds.

Image showing Margaret Korosec

Can you imagine a world where you can achieve a university degree by stacking the different learning experiences you’ve gained over the course of your life? How about a degree where prior learning is recognised?  

This future is becoming a reality at the University of Leeds, and we are pleased to share the first step on this journey: the expansion of our postgraduate online degree portfolio and range of microcredentials, short-course and skills-based education.  

Through our transformational strategic initiatives, we are reconceptualising how we offer education (Curriculum Redefined), growing our online degree portfolio (Digital Transformation) and thinking about how to support learners through their lifetime with educational experiences that fit their situation (Student Education). 

The growth of online learning at Leeds aims to inspire more learners to get involved in educational experiences at any stage of their career.  

As part of our commitment to lifelong learning, we’ll design modularity into our fully online degrees, developing a subject area cluster of credit and non-credit bearing provision. This means students will benefit by having more choice and easier access to online programmes, as well as to microcredentials, short-course and skills-based education. Additionally, an expanded, accessible portfolio of online options means more flexibility in the way education is offered.  

The ultimate vision is to create a sustainable model for online learning that helps faculties complement their portfolio with online programmes and allows Leeds to extend access to our world-class research and teaching to a global audience. 

This is all part of the University’s strategy for Curriculum Redefined, Digital Transformation and Student Education.   

What does this mean? 

For colleagues, this means we will expand our online degree portfolio and related subject-area courses exponentially during the next 10 years.  

Academic colleagues in schools and faculties will see more support for online programmes and greater opportunities to put forward new ideas that support the growth of our portfolio. As we diversify the types of learning offered, from microcredentials to full degrees, there will be greater opportunity to try new methods and styles of teaching practice that will attract a new cohort of lifelong learners. 

Professional services colleagues will also be involved in establishing this provision as we continue to partner with external providers whilst also establishing our in-house capability to provide an exceptional student experience.  

Establishing in-house capability will give us more control over the portfolio of online programmes we offer and the associated costs. This will include more resource to support marketing, learner recruitment and retention and admissions services – services which have historically been provided by external partners.  

Going forward, we will continue to support faculties by offering learning design, media support and virtual learning environment development, and these areas will continue to align with higher education quality and standards. We will also look at introducing funding models that provide a clear return to faculties and embed innovation and technology that supports the different ways our online community learn.  

The next five years and beyond  
This is an exciting time for online learning! We’ve already made impressive progress and the expansion of our online offer during the next five years will be a key driver and enabler for implementing the University strategy on student education and digital transformation.  

It will act as a vehicle to enhance and expand our educational provision, providing an outstanding education that’s enhanced by sector-leading pedagogies and intentional learning design, drawing on digital resources and technologies.  

Get involved! We invite you to register for our event on 5 July 2023 to find out more about our Online Education strategy, including insight into our ambition, next steps and how you can get involved.  

This event will launch the conversation on online and digitally-enhanced education throughout July – September, with many more opportunities to take part including the Online Learning Summit 2023 on 10 and 11 July and Leeds Digital Festival in September.

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