Too open?

September 3, 2015

Ormond Simpson’s letter says that in 2006 it had been possible to forecast the likely success of a new student entering the Open University, although this system was never used (“What are the chances?”, 20 August). An OU story that was in the press recently was about a rather less ambitious use of data – an algorithm the university uses to predict individual student failure to submit an assignment (The week in higher education, 30 July). Whichever story we focus on, we are in the territory of being encouraged to study the behaviour of an ant while sitting on an anthill.

For whatever predictive data we focus on, the perplexing fact remains that the OU is very happy to have its methods of tracking failing students widely publicised in the name of “innovations in data analytics” but at the same time is recruiting a new intake of students for the autumn when about 40 per cent or more of them are likely to fail their first year of study. They fail because they are ill-suited and ill-prepared in terms of skills and time for university study, especially the rigours of distance learning.

That is the real story, and it is surely immoral that a university should allow such large numbers of students to enrol (80 per cent via a loan) without doing anything to check that those students have a decent chance of success, and to personally counsel them to ensure that this is the best decision for them to take.

Name and address withheld

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Post-doctoral Research Associate in Chemistry

University Of Western Australia

PACE Data Support Officer

Macquarie University - Sydney Australia

Associate Lecturer in Nursing

Central Queensland University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Alexander Wedderburn

Former president of the British Psychological Society remembered

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham