An online business school is revolutionising business education by offering routes to undergraduate degrees and MBAs costing a student as little as £4,000 – while also enabling them to study “anywhere at anytime”.
The Online Business School (OBS), founded by distance-learning pioneer John Holden, provides ‘pay-as-you-go’ pathways to business degrees and MBAs, and is exploiting the wealth of free online learning materials.
OBS enables business students to access learning resources from some of the world’s most respected universities and earn credits to gain a university accredited qualification.
A student can study two thirds of an undergraduate degree or MBA with OBS, which can cost less than £1,000. The university top-up cost is from £3,000.
Mr Holden said: “Many universities charge £9,000 a year for a three or four year undergraduate course. When you add learning materials and transport, a student’s total costs for a university degree are more than £27,000, with MBAs as much as £40,000.
“But web-based social learning resources are revolutionising higher education – and OBS is doing this in the field of business education.
“Quite simply – why pay £27,000 for a business degree, when you can secure it for £4,000? And why pay £40,000 for an MBA when you can get one for a tenth of the cost?”
Importantly, while other online providers of business education only offer their own learning resources OBS taps into the wealth of free learning materials available online. Many universities, including Cambridge and Harvard have developed educational resources called massive open online courses (MOOCs). These are available to anyone with internet access. There is also a vast range of other learning resources on the web. OBS guides its students towards the best and most appropriate of these materials. In addition OBS provides specifically designed learning modules complete with online assessments.
Mr Holden said: “The reality is that most people just don’t realise that high quality lectures, tutorials, workshops, video and academic reports are available free. Even if they do, they don’t know where to find them.
“Plus, working people who want to further their business career by securing prestigious qualifications have constraints on their time. As well as work, they may have family commitments. This makes university attendance, even part-time, impossible.
“OBS provides the answer to this problem. We want to open up this vast business educational resource to anyone who wants to use it. OBS allows business students to study ‘anywhere at anytime’.”
OBS also enables students to enrol on a programme in just a few minutes, compared to several weeks with a traditional university.
Mr Holden said: “It can be frustrating trying to enrol on a university course and it can even deter prospective students. Plus, as OBS is online there is no limit to class numbers so there is not the problem of courses being oversubscribed.
“We are taking the painful processes out of the initial pathways of learning and providing students with a more flexible route.”
John Holden is one of the most respected leaders in higher education online learning.
In 1990 he founded Resource Development International (RDI) the world’s largest independent provider of UK university qualifications by distance learning. He sold the company in July 2011.
Mr Holden said: “OBS’s mission is to increase participation in business higher education. “We are using the latest web-based technology to offer lower fees, a huge range of learning resources, and programme flexibility. This sets us apart from other distance learning providers. OBS is the future of business further education.”
How OBS works:
* Students are provided with specially developed web-based learning materials such as tutorials and study guides. Using social platforms they study with fellow learners, similar in concept to a traditional university seminar.
* Each module receives a credit that is recognised by a range of universities for advanced entry into their own programmes.
* The equivalent of the first two years of a degree is studied online with OBS. After this students can transfer their credits to a range of universities that offer distance learning ‘top-ups’ to complete their degree. The process for an MBA follows a similar route. The MBA path provides 120 credits which requires a top up of 60 credits, usually by dissertation or one module plus a dissertation.
* Regular assessments are conducted online so students can monitor progress. If they need further help on a topic they can pay for extra resources such as one-to-one tuition.
* All OBS materials are designed and written by professional academic authors. Each interactive module is aligned against specific learning outcomes specified by OFQUAL, the Government’s body for academic standards.
* OBS’s web-based modules allow students to learn what they want, when they want and how they want. OBS has a 24/7 student networking platform, personal dashboards, 1-2-1 online tutorials, group webinars and bank of pre-recorded group webcasts.
* OBS’s entire programme is recognised by ATHE, a government recognised examining and awarding body for business and management students who are successful partners with many leading universities.
* OBS has no term dates. Courses are offered as and when a student requests. A course can begin any day of the year.
* OBS will be adding IT and hospitality courses to its prospectus in 2015.