Everyone, it seems, is launching an online university, but what is a university, and how do you become a real one?
Def. a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done. (Oxford Languages)
In England, to use the title university, you must be approved by various Government bodies. The title ‘university’ provides a signal of quality; students know what they are getting, and employers understand that the qualification on a CV has the appropriate rigour.
To use the title ‘University’ in England, you must be a Higher Education (HE) provider with taught degree-awarding powers, able to demonstrate regard for the principles of good governance relevant to the HE sector, and have at least 1000 full-time or equivalent higher education students with at least 750 students registered on degree courses and at least 55% of total students (full-time equivalence) on HE courses.
Become an English University in five steps:
Step 1: Start teaching people – create excellent teaching and learning with high student satisfaction and deliver it in a financially stable way (make a profit).
Step 2: Turn your teaching into courses – package your education into courses with rigorous assessments, academic standards, and performance metrics, including student success, and manage it as a company.
Step 3: Validate your courses through an existing provider – Use a partner with degree-awarding powers to turn your courses into degrees and use this partnership to implement effective governance.
Step 4: Get degree-awarding powers – Once you have been offering validated higher education courses for at least three years, you can apply for your own awarding powers.
Step 5: Become a registered university – grow to 1000 FTE students, with at least 55% of them on HE programmes.
Do you need to be a university? Students take a course to achieve a particular outcome; this usually relates to getting a better job than they would otherwise. Many established online courses provide excellent results and can be much quicker at giving students the required knowledge, skills, and behaviours to get the same good job. What the title on the certificate provides is social proof that what the course title promises was delivered. A portfolio, some experience, and skills can signal if the individual is willing to take the initiative to curate their learning.