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This paper briefly identifies a number of contemporary pressures for change which condition the way universities will behave and which provide both opportunities and threats for the future; it then goes on to consider the implications for distance education universities. Pressures on universities include such factors as the growth of other organizations that create and deal in knowledge, increasing access to higher education, and the new vocationalism. In the discussion of the implications of these pressures, the role of distance education in enabling students to combine work with progress to higher level qualifications, the importance of technology, and the limitations of current models are considered. A final section looks at individualized learning as the major new challenge to distance education despite the fact that it is expensive and difficult to deliver in a distance education setting. Particular attention is given to two initiatives which are exploring a more individualized system of student learning in distance education. One is concerned with the award of credit for the knowledge and abilities that students have developed but which are not recognized through formal qualifications. The other initiative, a course called Personal and Career Development, is directed towards helping students to clarify their educational, personal and career goals and develop an action plan to facilitate their achievement of these goals. (JB)

Descriptors: Access to Education, College Role, Distance Education, Educational Technology, Educational Trends, Experiential Learning, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Independent Study, Individual Differences, Individualized Instruction, Open Universities, Prior Learning, Student Development, Telecommunications

Autor: Raggatt, Peter


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