Alliance targets Asian e-learning market

June 23, 2000

An alliance of nine universities in Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia has been formed to deliver postgraduate courses over the internet to the rapidly expanding Asian market.

Unlike the Universitas 21 network of 18 universities, which plans to provide specially designed units online or via satellite, the Global University Alliance will offer existing courses developed by its member institutions.

A Hong Kong-based internet company, NextEd, is a partner in the alliance and will deliver the courses over the internet.

The GUA is being established as a Hong Kong-based company, with each university becoming a shareholder. Up to 15 universities will eventually be partners in the business.

The founding member universities are Glamorgan and Derby in the United Kingdom, Australia's University of South Australia and RMIT, Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, Holland's Hogeschool Brabant International Business School, the Taiwan Chung Yuan Christian University, America's Rochester Institute of Technology and the Canadian Athabasca University.

GUA founding chairman and Derby chancellor, Sir Christopher Ball, said: "We believe that all the members bring with them a depth of experience and expertise that will allow us to meet the educational needs of the Asian and the larger global education market."

David Beanland, vice-chancellor of RMIT University, said that the GUA universities were not principally driven by the need to make a profit.

"While we don't want to run at a loss, the ethos is really about how we can educate more people using the new technology in new ways to improve the effectiveness of education," he said.

Students will pay A$4,000 (Pounds 1,600) for the equivalent of one year of a full-time postgraduate course. The alliance will be formally launched in October. Most courses begin at the start of 2001.

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