United Kingdom

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lead author Ming Nie (up to summer 2013)

For the latest (2014) information on OER, MOOCs and open learning in UK see the OER Policy reports for UK home nations as follows:

Map of OER (and MOOCs) in the UK

Total number of Open Education Initiatives in United Kingdom on Sunday, 24 May 2020 at 23:56 = 78 , of which:

  • 38 are MOOC
  • 40 are OER

Initiatives per million = 1.25

Loading map...



The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain is an island country located off the north-western coast of mainland Europe.

The UK includes the island of Great Britain, the northeast part of the island of Ireland and many small islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with a land border, sharing it with the Republic of Ireland.

The total population is 62,200,000in mid-2010.

Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.

The United Kingdom is a political union of four "home nations" England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For additional detail see the entries on those countries.

In the much longer term the total or partial break-up of the union appears inevitable to some commentators but the best evidence is that such a discontinuity is still a few years ahead, perhaps further ahead than it was, given the recent recession and problems with banks in some small countries. However, already (as in Canada) the various education systems in the four home nations of the UK are significantly different and getting more so. Even the authoritative OECD finds it impossible to provide unified reports on some aspects of the UK educational system. This would also be the case for policy on OER.

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy with its seat of government in London, the capital, and a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the head of state.

The UK is a developed country with the sixth largest economy in the world. It was the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th century, but the economic cost of two world wars and the decline of its empire in the latter half of the 20th century diminished its formerly leading role in global affairs. The UK nevertheless retains strong economic, cultural, military and political influence.

The UK is a member of the European Union.

For further general information see Wikipedia:United Kingdom.

The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey) and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it. See separate entries for these.

The UK has fourteen British overseas territories, all remnants of the British Empire, which at its height encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface, making it the largest empire in history. As a direct result of the empire, British influence can be observed in the language and culture of states such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United States, and other less globally influential independent states. The Queen remains the head of the Commonwealth and head of state of the several Commonwealth countries.

Education system in United Kingdom

Overview of education system in UK

The UK has four distinct regional education systems. Education policy is devolved to the four home nations, both for schools and for tertiary education. Responsibility has been delegated to individual parliaments or National Assemblies. For further information please see:

Since devolution, education policy in the four constituent countries of the UK has diverged. In particular while England has pursued reforms based on diversity of school types and parental choice, Wales and Scotland remain more committed to the concept of the community-based comprehensive school. Systems of governance and regulation - the arrangements for planning, funding, quality-assuring and regulating learning, and local administration, are becoming increasingly differentiated across the four home nations.

For schools and universities there are still many similarities between England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI), but Scotland is very different. In particular, the exit qualifications for Scotland are different from those in EWNI and a typical university course (BA or BSc programme) is four years not three.

Each home nation has a Department or Ministry (sometimes more than one) looking after education. For example in England there is DCSF - Department for Children, Schools and Families for schools and DIUS - Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, now part of DBIS - Department for Business, Innovation & Skills for universities, with some shared areas of responsibility especially for tertiary non-university education where essentially tertiary education in the 14-19 area is under the guidance of DCSF and for older students under DIUS, now DBIS).

Some developmental or regulatory agencies - in particular QAA - Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education , JISC – Joint Information Systems Committee and the HEA - Higher Education Academy are shared across the four home nations, but with significant degrees of local autonomy. Others, such as BECTA (Unfortunately BECTA was closed in March 2011), were more concentrated in their activity often to England or at most EWNI - that is, the home nations other than Scotland. Even OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development tends to issue separate reports for EWNI and Scotland. See for example OECD Review of the Quality and Equity of Education Outcomes in Scotland .

The report – A guide to ICT in the UK education system provides an overview of the schools, colleges and universities across UK in 2009, see tables below [1].

The table below provides the number of schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009:

Number of schools England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Nursery 438 28 2645 98
Primary 17064 1478 2153 873
Secondary 3361 223 376 223
Special 1058 44 234 42
Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) 458 53 - -
Independent 2358 60 113 16

The table below provides the number of pupils in schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009:

Number of pupils (‘000s) England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Nursery 37 2 105 6
Primary 4075 258 371 165
Secondary 3271 205 304 148
Special 86 4 7 5
Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) 15 1 - -
Independent 587 9 31 -

The table below provides the number of school teachers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009:

Number of teachers (‘000s) England & Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Nursery and Primary 176.8 22 7.5
Secondary 197.8 24.3 9.7
Special 17.8 2.2 0.7
Independent 59.2 2.7 0.1

The table below provides the number of FE institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009:

Number of Further Education institutions England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Further education colleges 278 22 43 6
Sixth form colleges 95 - - -

The table below provides the number of students in FE across UK in 2009:

Number of students in Further Education across UK (‘000s)
Full-time: 1053
Part-time: 2416

The table below provides the number of HE institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2009:

Number of Higher Education institutions England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Universities 98 7 13 2
Other HEIs 35 5 7 2

The table below provides the number of students in HE across UK in 2009:

Number of students in Higher Education across UK (‘000s)
Full-time: 1540
Part-time: 937

Education in England

Schools in England

By law, all children of compulsory school age, from 5 to 16, must receive a full time education. However they will soon have to be in some form of compulsory education or training (at school, college or university) until 19.

The report – A guide to ICT in the UK education system shows that the National Curriculum used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland defines four Key Stages, which breakdown as follows [1]:

National Curriculum wiki.jpg

National examinations take place in the years shown in bold in the above table:

  • SATs (English and Maths; Science was scrapped in 2011): taken in Y6
  • GCSEs (and other qualifications): taken in Y11
  • AS-level: taken in Y12
  • A-levels: taken in Y13

Additionally, in KS1 there are Teacher Assessments in English, maths and science.

There are two levels of compulsory school education: primary and secondary education. Primary education covers years 1 (5 years old) to 6 (11 years old). The emphasis is on developing English language and literacy skills, numeracy and basic mathematics. Pupils progress to secondary education at the completion of primary schooling without any examinations, but throughout both primary and secondary phases there are formative National Curriculum assessments, colloquially known as SATs, used to measure the attainment of children attending maintained schools in England. They comprise a mixture of teacher-led and test-based assessment depending on the age of the pupils.

Secondary education is from year 7 (11 years old) to year 11 (16 years old). Core subjects are taught for the first two years and a selection of electives are introduced thereafter, culminating in GCSEs. Pupils may leave secondary schools at this time or continue to study for A-levels, though not all secondary schools offer this option. Students generally need at least 5 A-C GCSE Grades, including English and Mathematics as a prerequisite to start A-levels.

Types of schools in England

The past twenty years have seen a continuing flurry of changes to all parts of the English education system, most notably in schools, resulting in increased diversity and numbers of schools, and the removal of schools from council control. Increasing numbers of schools (e.g. Academies) are now governed and managed independent of local authority control from 2011 onwards. Organisations are empowered to apply to set up free schools based loosely on the Swedish free school model.

There are different types of state schools in England, including maintained schools, academies, independent schools, grammar schools and others.

Maintaied schools: All maintained schools follow the national curriculum, national pay and conditions, and are overseen and supported by the Local Authority. There are four main types of maintained schools: Community, Foundation and Trust, Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled schools. They differ in terms of who employs the staff, who owns the land and buildings, and who controls the admissions arrangements.

  • Community schools are run entirely by the Local Authority which employs the staff, owns the land and buildings, and decides on admissions arrangements.
  • Foundation and Trust schools are run by a governing body which employs the staff and sets admissions criteria. Land and buildings are usually owned by a charity or by the governing body.
  • Voluntary Aided schools (VA schools) are usually Faith schools run by the governing body which employs the staff and sets admissions criteria. Land and buildings are usually owned by a religious organisation.
  • Voluntary Controlled schools (VC schools) are like VA schools but the Local Authority runs the school, employing the staff and setting admissions, but the land and buildings are usually owned by a charity such as a religious organisation.

Academies: are publicly funded independent schools, free from local authority control. Other freedoms include setting their own pay and conditions for staff, freedoms concerning the delivery of the curriculum, and the ability to change the length of their terms and school days. Academies can be set up by Universities, FE colleges, education charities or businessmen. The provider must form a charity and cannot make a profit. Academies are held accountable through a ‘funding agreement’ – a contract with the Government. All schools can apply for academy status. The total number of open academies now stands at 704. The Government is now using academies to tackle weak primary schools. The weakest 200 primary schools in the country will become academies in 2012/13 (http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a0077837/michael-gove-face-reality-reform-urgently). A small number of Academies were formerly independent schools and the new 14-19 University Technical Colleges are also Academy Trusts.

Grammar schools : select their pupils on academic ability, although they can be maintained by the state. From 1985 onwards no new Grammar schools were established.

Independent state schools : have existed for several decades. In the 1980s, City Technology Colleges were established in deprived areas. In the 1990s, existing state schools were given more freedom and independence under the status of Grant Maintained schools.

Free schools : are a non-selective school that operate independently within the state system. They receive public funding according to the number of pupils it attracts and is independent from the Local Authority. Like all state schools it is subject to inspection by the national inspectorate Ofsted. It is also held to account through the results it achieves. It can be closed down if it underperforms. Free schools are adaptations of the charter school programme in the United States and the Free school programme in Sweden. The Coalition Government allowed groups to apply to set up Free schools from June 2010. The first schools opened in September 2011. By September 2012 there will be 24 operating and a further 200 are likely to be approved. In England Free Schools must:

  • Teach students only from reception to 19 years old age
  • Abide by the Schools Admissions Code
  • Have more than 5 pupils
  • Take account of the SEN Code of Practice
  • Be run by a Charitable Trust
  • Provide a broad and balanced curriculum including the core subjects such as Maths, English and Science, although they do not have to follow the National Curriculum
  • Achieve good results and do well in inspections

Although many children (more than 90% of English pupils) attend publicly funded schools, private schools (or independent schools) also exist and cater for 7% (rising to more than 18% of 16+ pupils) of the population (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_England). State schools are free, while independent ‘public’ schools charge fees. Independent schools are independent from both national and local government in finances, governance and operations. They are regulated lightly by government and inspected by a range of bodies. They are funded by school fees, gifts and endowments and governed by an independently elected board of governors.

Curriculum in English schools

The National Curriculum was introduced into England, Wales and Northern Ireland as a nationwide curriculum for primary and secondary state schools following the Education Reform Act 1988. Children aged five to 16 in 'maintained' or state schools must be taught the National Curriculum. Within the framework, schools are free to plan and organise teaching and learning in the way that best meets the needs of their pupils. The table below provides an overview of the core subjects taught in schools [9].

English School Curriculum wiki.png

According to the report Understanding of the UK education system, the National Curriculum consists of a set of core and foundation subjects. The core subjects are English, maths and science, and the foundation subjects are design and technology, information and communication technology (ICT), history, geography, art & design, music, physical education, modern foreign languages (Key Stage 3 only) and citizenship (Key Stages 3 and 4 only)[9].

All pupils in England, except those at independent (or private) schools and the new academies are required to adhere to the National Curriculum. Wales and Northern Ireland largely follow the National Curriculum requirements, with the exception that Welsh is also a core subject in Wales and that in Northern Ireland schools can develop additional curriculum elements to meet the needs of their pupils. Pupils are assessed by National Curriculum tests at the end of each Key Stage, with Key Stage 4 being assessed by levels of achievement acquired at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level. Having completed GCSEs, pupils have a choice of whether to continue with further education at school or college through AS-level, A-level or vocational qualifications or to undertake employment. In addition, religious education is taught according to agreed local syllabus. At secondary level schools also have to provide careers education and guidance (during Year 9), and sex and relationship education (SRE)[9].

The current government believes that over the years the National Curriculum has come to cover more subjects than it should and wants to slim the curriculum down to cover only essential subjects. To help develop this new National Curriculum for 5 to 16 year olds in England, a further review will consider what subjects should be compulsory at what age and what children should be taught in the main subjects at what age. Following public consultation, the aim is to begin teaching the new National Curriculum in maintained schools from September 2013.

Administration and finance in English schools

All schools in England have considerable autonomy in managing their own administration. However, the extent of autonomy varies according to the type of school. The administration of local authority schools is overseen by the relevant local authority, whereas Academies have a greater degree of independence.

The funding of schools in England is complex, both for capital and revenue funding and varies according to the nature of the school's governance - whether it is an Academy, or a local authority school. Most capital funding flows from central government, but with local authority schools this is channelled via the local authority. In the case of Voluntary Aided schools, most of which are faith schools, 15% of capital funding is provided by the sponsoring foundation.

The Building Schools for the Future – BSF programme has been wound up, but it is still funding some projects nationally. For example, BSF in Leicester has not been stopped, and also continued in some other cities, although the initial amount has been slightly reduced through Government managed efficiency saving exercise.

In general capital investment in education will be less generous up to 2015, targeting schools in the worst condition. Government focus is now to cut red tape and tackle urgent demand from rising birth rates. This contrasts with the BSF programme in Scotland where a major programme of school renewal is still under way, including the replacement of all the secondary schools in Eileann Siar (the Western Isles).

The Government scrapped the financial management standard in schools (FMSiS) requirement on schools from 15 November 2010. FMSiS will be replaced by a simpler standard, drawn up in association with schools themselves which will give governors and heads, local authorities and Government assurance about value for money and effective use of public resources.

The 2011 Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, describes a long term programme of work to reduce bureaucracy and give schools greater freedom to decide how they fulfil their functions in a number of areas, including:

  • Inspection and self-evaluation
  • Lesson planning
  • Assessing Pupils Progress (APP)
  • Financial management
  • Qualifications
  • Removal of statutory duties
  • Cutting guidance and improving communications to schools
  • Reviewing data burdens

A number of changes to statutory requirements are already being made.

Further Education in England


From 1993 onwards there have been large scale changes in governance, funding and curriculum in the further education sector, resulting in the removal of all FE sector colleges from council control, and a gradual reduction in the number of colleges, through merger and occasional closure. Since 1993, FE sector colleges, including Sixth Form Colleges (SFCs), have been autonomous independent corporations out of local authority control.

Types of FE institutions in England

There are 351 Colleges in the England further education sector in April 2011. Colleges in the English further education sector are grouped in five categories: General Further Education Colleges (GFE), Sixth Form Colleges (SFC), land-based Colleges (AHC), art, design and performing arts Colleges (ADPAC), special designated Colleges (SD). Many of these colleges also provide work-based vocational training programmes.

  • General Further Education Colleges (GFE) largely provide vocational education and training for the 16+ age group and training for businesses. Most provide some general education courses at GCSE and A/AS Level. Many provide limited vocational training for 14-16 year olds by arrangement with local secondary schools. The majority provide some higher education courses in partnership with universities. Annual enrolments are mostly in the range of 10,000-20,000 learners. Some rural colleges are considerably smaller and the largest few have up to 50,000 enrolments per annum. The majority of learners are aged 16-24.
  • Sixth Form Colleges (SFC) are much more like extensions of schools beyond the compulsory phase. They provide largely academic courses (GCSE and A/AS Level) in preparation for university entrance. Some provide a limited range of vocational courses and adult education programmes. Their student population consists of 16-18 year olds, studying full time. They range in size from 650 learners (the smallest) up to 2,500, with the majority in the 1,000-1,750 range.
  • Land-based Colleges (AHC) focus on vocational training for land-based industries and recreational management, largely, but not exclusively, in the sectors of agriculture, horticulture, equine studies and land and recreation management (e.g. farm management, forestry and golf courses). Most of them include some higher education courses in their portfolio and undertake some distance learning, often with international students. They range in size from around 500 to 3,000 annual enrolments, with the largest contingent in the age range 16-24.
  • Art, design and performing arts Colleges (ADPAC): The four ADPAC colleges are specialist colleges, focusing on vocational training in art, design and performing arts. They are small in size and attract the majority of 16-24 year old students.
  • Special designated Colleges (SD): The 10 SD colleges are largely colleges of adult education, however, they do contain a small number of students under 21 years old.

In addition to the 351 colleges described above, there are some 70 independent colleges which provide learning and vocational training to people with physical and learning disabilities. The colleges are members of NATSPEC - National Association of Specialist Independent Colleges. The majority of their students are aged 16-24.

English FE colleges’ curriculum

There is no statutory curriculum for English colleges in the further education sector. The majority of learners study part-time with most undertaking vocational and work-related training. Vocational training programmes run at all levels, with a variety of accreditation (see the Section on Quality assurance). In addition to vocational training, large numbers of FE learners study:

  • Basic skills
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), though this number is reducing due to cuts in government funding
  • GCSEs and GCE A-Levels
  • Higher education courses: Over half the GFE colleges provide HE courses, with both foundation and full degrees

Administration and finance in English FE colleges

In 1993 the FE sector (including SFCs) was taken out of local authority control and colleges became independent, autonomous corporations. This major change in governance was accompanied by changes in funding systems. In GFE colleges one of the main impacts has been an increased search for external funding through providing customised training and business services and a reduction in the total number of colleges. There has been a net loss of almost a third of separate GFE colleges through mergers since 1993.

FE sector colleges are independent autonomous corporations which administer their own affairs but are subject to inspection from Ofsted and audit from the Skills Funding Agency, providing funds for the 19+ age group (and GFE colleges overall). Before May 2010 the Young Peoples' Learning Agency (YPLA) funds SFCs. The YPLA was closed by the Government in May 2010 as part of its wider education reforms. As a result the responsibilities of the YPLA have transferred to the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Funding levels are decided by the agencies and funding follows the learner, but only for agency approved courses - provision which is not agency approved is at colleges' expense and they can decide what fees they will charge learners.

Higher Education in England

Higher education is provided by Universities, University Colleges, Colleges of Education and also in the GFE colleges.

  • Universities: England has over 100 institutions which are universities or of university status and in receipt of HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding. Only one institution is fully private (University of Buckingham) but all universities seek to maximise their income from other than state sources. In addition some 200 colleges also receive some funds from HEFCE for teaching university-level courses and 29 of these belong to the “Mixed Economy Group” of FE-HE colleges.
  • University Colleges are institutions that provide tertiary education but do not have full or independent university status. A university college is often part of a larger university. Typically, university colleges are independent institutions which are too small to be counted as universities and usually also have some restriction on their ability to grant the full range of degrees especially research degrees.
  • Colleges of higher education consist of institutions which are small and specialised and do not award their own degrees. Areas of specialisation are usually one or more of music, dance, drama, art, teacher training, theology, agriculture or nautical studies.

E-learning in England

Successive UK governments have taken initiatives to provide high speed broadband access across the UK. The most recent initiative was outlined by the current government in 2010 by the Culture Secretary and refined in November 2011 to provide ultra-fast broadband to a number of major cities. More information about the Government’s policy on internet and broadband, please see the section on Internet in UK.

Nationally the major English ICT in education initiatives have been driven by two Government agencies: BECTA (was closed in March 2011), and JISC. Focusing largely on higher education, but also reaching out to further education, JISC has run a major series of research programmes, such as its e-learning programme , together with Regional Support Centres (across the UK) which have been highly rated by practitioners. Since the change of national government in 2010, which signalled major reductions in funding for ICT research and development, JISC has increasingly divided its work into separate 'companies' and has a continuing, if reduced, research programme.

For schools the main agency up until 2010 was BECTA. BECTA worked most closely with schools in recommending preferred procurement solutions and conducted extensive monitoring of technology take-up and the effectiveness of its use in schools, further and adult education and commercial vocational training. BECTA was closed down by the coalition government in 2010. Many of its research reports are still highly relevant to the use of ICT in schools, colleges and adult education.

Since the demise of BECTA, there has been little development of ICT monitoring and research in schools, and only a restricted amount in further education and skills through the Learning and Skills Improvement Service Excellence Gateway – LSIS .

In work-based vocational training, evidence of much e-learning development can be seen on the ALP e-learning site which has been archived by LSIS, as the local improvement grant scheme, which fuelled much of the e-learning innovation, was axed at the end of 2011. The archived website does, however, contain a number of useful case studies of e-learning development. ALP has now rebranded itself as the Association of Employment & Learning Providers and it makes no mention of e-learning.

For more information about e-learning initiatives in schools, colleges and universities, visit Re.ViCa/VISED wiki.

Quality procedures in England

General and academic qualifications

GCSE is the main qualification taken by school pupils at age 16. English schools are largely judged by the percentage of pupils gaining 5 'good' GCSEs - at grade C or above - including English and Maths. The UK government announced in 2010 that it was extending this judgement into an English Baccalaureate and has published DfE Performance Tables to indicate which subjects can be counted in this.

The main general academic qualification for 16-18 year olds remains the GCE A-Level. The first year of 2-year GCE A-Level courses was separately accredited as a stand-alone qualification AS-Level from 2002, but there are proposals in 2012 for the reform of abolishing the AS-level as a separate qualification.

Vocational qualifications

There are separate accredited vocational qualifications in England, in spite of several attempts to simplify the system. Many of these are highly specialised and industry-specific. Sector Skills Councils oversee qualifications in their industry area.

GFE colleges have maintained their core business of vocational training, largely for 16-24 year olds. They are also currently involved in adapting their programmes and courses to the Qualifications and Credit Framework – QCF and aims to link the English vocational accreditation framework with European systems.

A new system of accrediting work-based vocational training NVQs - National Vocational Qualifications was introduced during the early 1990s. This is paralleled by Scotland's vocational qualification framework of SVQs - Scottish Vocational Qualifications .


The current UK government is increasing the amount of vocational training provided through Apprenticeships, which are available to young people at three levels:

  • Apprenticeships: designed for young people leaving school at 16+ with average levels of attainment, with successful completion equated to 5 'good' GCSE passes
  • Advanced Apprenticeships: also available for young people leaving school at 16+, with successful completion equated to 2 GCE A Level passes
  • Higher Apprenticeships: leading to qualifications at NVQ Level 4 and sometimes a Foundation Degree

Academic/vocational qualifications

In an attempt to bridge the academic/vocational divide and provide industry standard qualifications of high status, Diplomas for 14-19 year olds (www.direct.gov.uk/diplomas) were introduced in 2008. These may replace Applied GCSEs and A-Levels by 2013. Take-up has so far been disappointing and the present English government is not supporting their continuation. Several attempts to simplify the enormous number of separate vocational qualifications have met with little success.

Quality assurance below higher education

All education and training below higher education is inspected by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education. Ofsted inspects the care of children and young people, and education and skills for learners of all ages undertaking courses in schools, colleges or with training providers. It is independent in that it does not report to government ministers but directly to Parliament.

Ofsted carries out hundreds of inspections and regulatory visits each week, publishing its findings within the ‘Inspection reports’ area of its website (http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report). Inspections result in a written report indicating one of four grades: outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. A new Ofsted Chief Inspector has recently taken up post in 2012 and it is likely that there will be further changes to both school and college inspections in the next few years.

FE sector colleges are inspected by Ofsted too, together with a wide range of associated provision.

Private training providers are also inspected by Ofsted, under the same framework as FE sector colleges. There was a Training Quality Standard scheme designed to encourage excellence, but this has been scrapped by the government in 2011.

Higher education qualifications and quality assurance

Quality assurance for UK universities and other institutions engaged in higher education is overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency – QAA.

Accreditation and quality assurance are reviewed through an institutional audit. Institutional audit aims to ensure that institutions are providing higher education, awards and qualifications of an acceptable quality and an appropriate academic standard, and exercising their legal powers to award degrees in a proper manner.

Further education colleges that provide higher education programmes are reviewed through an academic review at subject level. Academic review at subject level looks at subject areas against the broad aims of the subject provider.

QAA also reviews healthcare education. Major review of NHS-funded healthcare programmes in England recognises the key importance of teaching and learning within a practice setting, as well as within higher education institutions. The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) has carried out QAA GOsC review of osteopathic programmes of study and universities and colleges that provide them.

Education in Wales

The education system was devolved to Wales when the Welsh Assembly came into being in 1999. Education in Wales differs in certain respects from education elsewhere in the UK. A significant number of students all over Wales are educated either wholly or largely through Welsh. In 2008/09, 22% of classes in maintained primary schools used Welsh as the sole or main medium of instruction. Welsh medium education is available to all age groups through nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and in adult education. Lessons in the language itself are compulsory for all pupils until the age of 16.

Primary education in Wales

Education in Wales is compulsory beginning with the child's fifth birthday, same to education in England.

In 2008/09 there were 1,478 primary schools in Wales with 258,314 pupils and 12,343 full-time teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 20 and the average class size was 24.4 pupils. Schools in Wales are divided into broadly similar categories as in England.

In South Wales there are independent schools in the towns/cities of Brecon, Cardiff, Llandovery, Llanelli, Monmouth, Newport and Penarth (near Cardiff). In North Wales there are independent schools in Bangor, Colwyn Bay, Denbigh, Llandudno and Ruthin.

Most parents choosing to educate through school-based provision, however education may take place at home as well. No figures have yet surfaced on the number of homeschooled students in Wales. However, the charity Education Otherwise reports that there are local Home Education groups in Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Glamorgan (Bridgend and Newport), Gwynedd, Monmouthshire, Montgomeryshire (Llanfyllin), Neath Pt. Talbot, Powys (Newtown), and Wrexham.

Primary education in Wales has a similar structure to primary education in England, but teaching of the Welsh language is compulsory and it is used as the medium of instruction in many schools. The introduction of the Foundation Phase for 3-7 year olds is also creating increasing divergence between Wales and England.

In Wales, statutory education begins in the term after a child's fifth birthday, although many children start primary school earlier than this. Between the ages of 3 and 11 a child's education is divided into three main stages:

  • Early Years: pre-compulsory education (ages 3-5)
  • Key Stage 1: the first phase of compulsory primary education (ages 5-7)
  • Key Stage 2: the second phase of compulsory primary education (ages 7-11)

Primary schools in Wales must, by law, teach the basic curriculum and the National Curriculum. The basic curriculum consists of religious education (RE) and personal and social education (PSE). Primary schools are also required to have a policy on sex education.

At Key Stages 1 and 2, the National Curriculum consists of core subjects: English, Welsh, mathematics and science, and non-core subjects: Welsh second language, design and technology, information technology, history, geography, art, music, physical education and religious education. There is no statutory requirement to teach English at Key Stage 1 in Welsh-medium schools.

Pupils are statutorily assessed to establish their starting point when they first enter school in the Reception Year or Year 1, and there are further statutory assessments in the core subjects at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2.

From September 2008 to September 2011, the Welsh Assembly Government is introducing a new Foundation Phase for children from 3 to 7 years of age, combining Early Years Education for 3 to 5 year-olds and Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum for 5 to 7-year olds. The Foundation Phase places a greater emphasis on experiential learning.

Secondary education in Wales

In 2008/09 there were 223 secondary schools in Wales with 205,421 pupils and 12,535 full-time teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 16.4.

Secondary education in Wales covers the period between the ages of 11 and 16, and is divided into two main stages of the National Curriculum: Key Stages 3 and 4.

Key Stage 3 includes:

  • Year 7: old First Form, age 11 to 12
  • Year 8: old Second Form, age 12 to 13
  • Year 9: old Third Form, age 13 to 14 (End of Key Stage 3 Tests and Tasks)

Key Stage 4 includes:

  • Year 10: old Fourth Form, age 14 to 15
  • Year 11: old Fifth Form, age 15 to 16 (GCSE examinations)

Secondary schools in Wales must, by law, teach the basic and the National Curriculum to their pupils. The basic curriculum consists of religious education, sex education, personal and social education, and for 14-16 year olds, work-related education, the Welsh Baccalaureate is now online for pupils at Key Stage 4. Schools must also provide careers education and guidance for all 13-16 years old.

At Key Stage 3, the National Curriculum consists of the core subjects of English, Welsh, mathematics and science, and the non-core subjects of Welsh second language, modern foreign languages, design and technology, information technology, history, geography, art, music, physical education and religious education. At Key Stage 4, only five National Curriculum subjects are mandatory: English, Welsh or Welsh second language, mathematics, science, and physical education, and schools have greater flexibility to provide optional subjects that meet the needs and interests of their pupils. The majority of learners at this key stage follow courses leading to external qualifications, principally GCSEs.

In 2003, the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification was piloted at Key Stage 5/6. Subsequently Welsh Baccalaureate programmes have been introduced for study at three levels: Foundation, Intermediate or Advanced between ages 14–19 years.

Further and Higher Education in Wales

In Wales, further education includes full- and part-time learning for people over compulsory school age, excluding higher education. Further education and publicly-funded training in Wales is provided by 24 FE institutions and a range of public, private and voluntary sector training providers, such as the Workers' Educational Association. Colleges vary in size and mission, and include general FE, tertiary and specialist institutions, including one Roman Catholic Sixth Form College and a residential adult education college. Many colleges offer leisure learning and training programmes designed to meet the needs of business. In 2008/09 there were 236,780 FE students in Wales.

In Wales, students normally enter higher education from 18 onwards. All undergraduate education is largely state-financed (with Welsh students contributing £1,255), and students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance. The state does not control syllabi, but it does influence admission procedures and monitors standards through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The typical first degree offered at Welsh universities is the Bachelor's degree, typically taking three years to complete full-time. Some institutions offer an undergraduate Master's degree as a first degree, typically lasting four years. During a first degree students are known as undergraduates. Some universities offer a vocationally-based Foundation degree, typically two years in length.

Higher Education in Wales is delivered via 11 distinct universities and higher education colleges in Wales, plus the Open University in Wales, as well as via a number of further education colleges that offer higher education courses. Funding is provided for the following:

  • Aberystwyth University
  • Bangor University
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Glamorgan
  • University of Wales, Lampeter
  • University of Wales, Newport
  • NEWI - North East Wales Institute
  • University of Wales, Swansea
  • Swansea Institute of Higher Education, soon to be Swansea Metropolitan University
  • Trinity College, Carmarthen
  • UWIC - University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

Funding is also provided for:

  • University of Wales Registry
  • The Open University in Wales

In 2008/09 there were 146,465 enrolments at HE institutions in Wales, including 66,645 undergraduates and 23,260 postgraduates. Welsh HE institutions had a total of 8,840 academic staff.

Lifelong learning in Wales

Adult Community learning is a form of adult education or lifelong learning delivered and supported by local authorities in Wales. Programmes can be formal or informal, non-accredited or accredited, and vocational, academic or leisure orientated. In 2008/09 there were 57,170 learners in Community Learning.

E-learning in Wales

In 2005 Education and Learning Wales - ELWA commissioned a report from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action on barriers to growth in the use of learning technology in the voluntary sector is public (http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5765/).

On 12 October 2007 HEFCW - the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, released its consultation document Enhancing Learning and Teaching through Technology: a Strategy for Higher Education in Wales. This document describes 13 indicators of success, seven short term and six long term, spread across five categories.

The JISC Regional Support Centre in Wales - RSC Wales is active in supporting e-learning including in the ACL – Adult and Community Learning area (called PCDL - Personal and Community Development Learning in England), and more specifically to:

  • Deliver e-learning support to Voluntary and Community Learning Providers
  • Increase the use of e-learning by developing skills and knowledge
  • Broker or provide training and expertise to the ACL sector

For more information about e-learning initiatives in schools, colleges and universities in Wales, please visit Re.ViCa/VISED wiki

Quality procedures in Wales

Pupils in secondary school take part in the compulsory GCSE and the non-compulsory A-level qualifications at age 16 and 18 respectively. Since 2007 the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification has also been available as an option.

Post-16 education in Wales is overseen by ELWA.

Higher education in Wales is overseen by HEFCW - the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. As in other home nations of the UK, quality assurance for universities and other institutions in Wales engaged in higher education is overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency – QAA.

Education in Northern Ireland

Education in Northern Ireland differs slightly from systems used elsewhere in the UK, though it is more similar to that used in England and Wales than it is to Scotland. In particular school children take GCSE and A-levels as in England and Wales.

Another minor variant is that a child's age on 1 July determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education unlike England and Wales where it is the 1 September.

School holidays in Northern Ireland are considerably different from those of Great Britain, and are more similar to those in the rest of Ireland. Northern Irish schools often do not take a full week for half-term holidays, and the summer term does not usually have a half-term holiday at all. Christmas holidays sometimes consist of less than two weeks. The same applies to the Easter holiday. The major difference is that summer holidays are considerably longer with the end of June and the entirety of July and August off, giving a nine to ten weeks summer holiday.

Schools in Northern Ireland

Types of schools in Northern Ireland

Grammar schools: Northern Ireland remains the largest area in the UK which still operates grammar schools. In the last year of primary school, children sit the eleven plus transfer test, and the results determine which school they will go to. In 2001, a decision was made to abolish the system, and to replace it with separate exams each grammar school will set prospective primary students. Northern Ireland ministers of education have chosen not to turn grammar schools into comprehensive schools, as once thought, due to other UK government systems failing to meet expectations with their decision of comprehensive schools.

State (controlled) schools are open to all children in Northern Ireland, although in practice are mainly attended by those from Protestant or non-religious backgrounds. Many of these schools were originally church schools, whose control was transferred to the state in the first half of the twentieth century. State (controlled) schools are under the management of the school's board of governors and the employing authorities are the five education and library boards.

Catholic schools: There are 533 Roman Catholic-managed schools in Northern Ireland. According to figures from the Department of Education for 2009/2010, approximately 51% of children in Northern Ireland are educated in Catholic-managed schools. The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is the advocate for the Catholic maintained schools sector in Northern Ireland. CCMS represents trustees, schools and governors on issues such as raising and maintaining standards, the school estate and teacher employment. CCMS also has a wider role within the Northern Ireland education sector and contributes with education partners to policy on a wide range of issues such as curriculum review, selection, pre-school education, pastoral care and leadership.

Integrated schools: Although integrated education is expanding, Northern Ireland has a highly-segregated education system, with 95% of pupils attending either a maintained (Catholic) school or a controlled school (mostly Protestant). Integrated schools which attempt to ensure a balance in enrolment between pupils of Protestant, Roman Catholic and other faiths (or none) are becoming increasingly popular. In the primary school sector, forty schools (8.9% of the total number) are Integrated Schools and thirty two (7.2% of the total number) are Gaelscoileanna. The integrated schools have been established by the voluntary efforts of parents. The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), a voluntary organisation, promotes, develops and supports integrated education in Northern Ireland. The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) is a financial foundation for the development and growth of integrated education in Northern Ireland in response to parental demand. It was established in 1992 with money from EU Structural Funds, the Department of Education NI, and Foundations, as a financial foundation for the development and growth of Integrated Education.

Irish-language-medium schools: The Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 placed a duty on the Department of Education, similar to that already in existence in relation to integrated education through the 1989 Education Reform Order, “to encourage and facilitate the development of Irish-medium education”. Irish language medium schools are able to achieve grant-aided status, under the same procedures as other schools, by applying for voluntary maintained status. In addition to free-standing schools, Irish language medium education can be provided through units in existing schools. Unit arrangements permit Irish-language-medium education to be supported where a free-standing school would not be viable. A unit may operate as a self-contained provision under the management of a host English-medium school and usually on the same site.

School curriculum in Northern Ireland

The majority of examinations and education plans followed in Northern Irish schools are set by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment – CCEA.

All schools in Northern Ireland follow the Northern Ireland Curriculum which is based on the National Curriculum used in England and Wales. As in these home nations, at age 11, on entering secondary education, all pupils study a broad base of subjects which include geography, English, mathematics, science, physical education, music and modern languages. Currently there are proposals to reform the curriculum to make its emphasis more skills-based under which, in addition to those mentioned, home economics, local and global citizenship and personal, social and health education would become compulsory subjects.

At age 14, pupils select which subjects to continue to study for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations. Currently it is compulsory to study English, mathematics and religious studies, although a full GCSE course does not have to be studied for the latter. In addition, pupils usually elect to continue with other subjects and many study for eight or nine GCSEs but possibly up to ten or eleven. GCSEs mark the end of compulsory education in Northern Ireland.

At age 16, some pupils stay at school and choose to study Advanced Level AS and A2 level subjects or more vocational qualifications such as Applied Advanced Levels. Those choosing AS and A2 levels normally pick three or four subjects and success in these can determine acceptance into higher education courses at university.

School administration and finance in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s education system has an extremely complex structure. There are 10 official bodies involved in the management and administration of the system as well as a number of voluntary bodies that play a significant role (schoolswork, 2007).

Education at a local level in Northern Ireland is administered by five education and library boards covering different geographical areas. These boards are as follows:

  • Belfast Education and Library Board
  • North Eastern Education and Library Board
  • South Eastern Education and Library Board
  • Southern Education and Library Board
  • Western Education and Library Board

The role of the boards is to ensure that high quality education, youth and library support services exist throughout their areas. Each board is allocated resources by the Department of Education.

The Department of Education Northern Ireland - DENI is responsible for the country's education policy for the school sector. The Department of Education's primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of Northern Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy. Its main areas of responsibility cover:

  • Pre-school, primary, post-primary and special education
  • Youth service
  • Promotion of community relations within and between schools
  • Teacher education and salaries

Further and Higher Education in Northern Ireland

There are six colleges in Northern Ireland designated as further education colleges, all offer higher education also in a way similar to community colleges in the US and colleges in Scotland. All colleges are larger and more multi-campus than elsewhere in the UK.

  • Belfast Metropolitan College: 53,000 students at one campus in Belfast
  • Northern Regional College: 35,000 students at 7 campuses: Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Magherafelt, Newtownabbey
  • North West Regional College: 24,000 students at 3 campuses: Derry, Limavady, Strabane
  • Southern Regional College: 50,000 students at 6 campuses: Armagh, Banbridge, Kilkeel, Lurgan, Newry, Portadown
  • South Eastern Regional College: 30,000 students at 6 campuses: Ballynahinch, Bangor, Downpatrick, Lisburn, Newcastle, Newtownards
  • South West College: 18,500 students at 4 campuses

There is also one specialist college, CAFRE - the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise , with three campuses at Greenmount, Enniskillen and Loughry.

The universities are similar in approach to those in other home nations of the UK. There are two universities, two university colleges, and six Institutes of Further and Higher Education which delivery further and higher education in Northern Ireland.

The Open University also operates throughout Northern Ireland.

  • St. Mary’s University College
  • Stranmillis University College
  • Six Institutes of Further and Higher Education

For the official list see http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/further-and-higher-education.htm.

Higher Education in Northern Ireland is overseen by the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland - DELNI. Its role is to formulate policy and administer funding to support education, research and related activities in the Northern Ireland higher education sector.

E-learning in Northern Ireland

Classroom 2000 - C2k is a Northern Ireland-wide information and communications network operated on behalf of the five Education and Library Boards in the home nation. C2k is responsible for providing all schools in Northern Ireland with internet and other services to support the Northern Irish Curriculum.

Since its creation the project has been funded by the European Union, through its Building Sustainable Prosperity programme, and the DENI - Department of Education Northern Ireland.

For more information about e-learning initiatives in schools, colleges and universities in Northern Ireland, please visit Re.ViCa/VISED wiki

Quality procedures in Northern Ireland

School children in Northern Ireland take GCSE and A-levels as in England and Wales. Northern Ireland's results at GCSE and A-Level are consistently top in the UK. At A-Level, one third of students in Northern Ireland achieved A grades in 2007, higher compared with England and Wales (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Northern_Ireland).

As in other home nations of the UK, quality assurance for universities and other institutions in Northern Ireland engaged in higher education is overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency – QAA.

Education in Scotland

Scotland has a long history of universal provision of public education, and the Scottish education system is distinctly different from other parts of the UK. The Scotland Act 1998 gives Scottish Parliament legislative control over all education matters, and the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is the principal legislation governing education in Scotland.

Traditionally, the Scottish system at secondary school level has emphasized breadth across a range of subjects, while the English, Welsh and Northern Irish systems have emphasised greater depth of education over a smaller range of subjects.

Following this, Scottish universities generally have courses a year longer (typically 4 years) than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK, though it is often possible for students to take more advanced specialised exams and join the courses at the second year. One unique aspect is that the ancient universities of Scotland issue a Master of Arts as the first degree in humanities.

Schools in Scotland

Types of schools in Scotland

According to the report Understanding of the UK education system there are primarily three types of schools in Scotland [9]:

  • Denominational schools: As a result of the Education Act 1918, separate denominational state schools were also established. The vast majority of denominational state schools are Roman Catholic but there are also a number of Scottish Episcopal schools. Catholic schools are fully funded by the Scottish Government and administered by the Education and Lifelong Learning Directorate. There are specific legal provisions to ensure the promotion of a Catholic ethos in such schools. Applicants for positions in the areas of Religious Education, Guidance or Senior Management must be approved by the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, which also appoints a chaplain to each of its schools. There is also one Jewish state primary school. These denominational schools are run in the same way as other education authority schools, except that teachers may be selected on the basis of religious beliefs as well as educational qualifications. Special time may be set aside for religious services and an unpaid religious supervisor, possibly the local priest, will report to the education authority on the religious instruction in the school.
  • Local schools: The education authority decides what is taught at the school and how pupils are examined and assessed. It allows parents to choose which school their children attend and publishes information on each school in its area. Each education authority school should have a school board - made up of parents, teachers and members of the local community - that can have wide powers including involvement in recruitment of staff below the level of head teacher.
  • Special schools: A special school is designed to meet the needs of those who cannot attend ordinary school and have ‘recorded’ special needs. The teachers and other staff are usually specially trained in appropriate methods of teaching and care. A small number of children in special schools attend on a residential basis so that they can receive full-time care.

Overview of schools in Scotland

All state schools are owned and operated by the local authorities which act as Education Authorities, and the compulsory phase is divided into primary school and secondary school (often called high school). Schools are supported in delivering the National Guidelines and National Priorities by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

In 2010 there were 92,030 children in 2,586 pre-schools, 365,326 pupils in 2,099 primary schools, 301,014 pupils in 376 secondary schools, and 6,800 pupils in 163 special schools. The proportion of pupils in special schools continues to be about 1%, with approximately 1.2% of pupils spending all or most of their time in special schools or classes.

There is a decreasing trend in the number of schools and pupils since 2003, with pupil numbers having fallen by a further 0.5% since 2009.

The total number of teachers in all sectors or visiting specialists was 52,188, which is 796 fewer than the 2009 figure of 52,984. The pupil teacher ratio in schools increased from 13.2 in 2009 to 13.3 in 2010. Full statistical tables can be found at School Education Statistics.

Pupils usually start primary school at age five, although there are some younger pupils. They attend primary school for seven years and are usually 11 or 12 when they start high school. They can leave school after turning 16. This is usually after fourth year. However, many children choose to stay on to complete fifth and sixth year. In Scotland, pupils sit Standard Grades instead of GCSEs and Highers instead of A levels.

There are 376 state secondary schools. There is not a set name for secondary schools in Scotland, but whatever they might be called, with just a few specific exceptions in mainly rural or island authorities, they are all fully-comprehensive non-selective state secondary schools. Amongst the state-run secondary schools:

  • 188 are nominally High Schools: these are spread across the country
  • 131 are nominally Academies, spread across the country but are in high concentration in North-East Scotland and Ayrshire. There are also three Royal Academies, in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Tain and Inverness
  • 15 are nominally Secondary Schools
  • 14 are nominally Grammar Schools
  • 13 are Simply Schools: cater for Primary as well as Secondary school children. They are found in rural areas or islands
  • eight are Junior High Schools: are found exclusively in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. They cater for school children from the first year of Primary (P1) to the fourth year of Secondary (S4)
  • three are Colleges: Madras College (in St Andrews, Fife), Marr College (in Troon, South Ayrshire) and St Joseph's College (in Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway)

Other schools include The Community School of Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross; The Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, Western Isles; North Walls Community School on Hoy, Orkney Islands and Wester Hailes Education Centre, Wester Hailes, Edinburgh. All of these are, equally, fully comprehensive non-selective schools, differing only in designation from all other state secondary schools in Scotland.

School curriculum in Scotland

According to the report Understanding of the UK education system the curriculum in Scotland is different from the National Curriculum used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish curriculum is divided into the 5-14 Curriculum and the Standard Grade for 14 to 16 year olds. After Standard Grade pupils have the opportunity to take Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications [9].

The year groups in Scotland are divided into primary (P) and secondary (S), with the 5-14 curriculum covering P1 to P7 and S1 to S2, the Standard Grade programme in S3 and S4, Higher Grade in S5 (but also available at S6) and Advanced Higher taken by the most able pupils in S6. The 5-14 Curriculum is divided into six attainment levels - A to F. Assessment of pupils’ attainment levels is taken by individuals or groups when the teacher considers them to be ready; whole classes or year groups do not sit tests at this grade [9].

The Learning and Teaching Scotland website, renamed Education Scotland from July 2011 gives details of the Scottish secondary curriculum.

New National Qualifications called National 4 and National 5 will be introduced. They will replace a number of current National Qualifications: Standard Grade General, Standard Grade Credit, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2. Standard Grade Foundation will be replaced by the updated Access 3. Revisions will also be made to the current Access 1, Access 2, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications.

The new qualifications will be phased in between session 2013/14 and session 2015/16, with the new curriculum introduced to S1 pupils from 2010/11. The new National 4 and National 5 qualifications will be introduced in 2013/14, as will the new Access qualifications. The new Higher will follow in 2014/15 while the new Advanced Higher will be available from 2015/16 onwards.

The last certification of Standard Grade qualifications will be in 2013/14. Access 1-3, National 4 and National 5 will be ‘dual run’ alongside Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 in 2014/15. The new Higher will be introduced and ‘dual run’ alongside current Higher, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 in 2015/16.

Literacy and Numeracy Units will be available as freestanding Units at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5. These Units will also be available to adult learners. There will be mandatory Units in Access 3 and National 4 English and Mathematics Courses and National 5 Lifeskills Mathematics. At National 5, some, but not all, literacy and numeracy skills will be included within English and Mathematics Courses. These skills will not be separately certificated by SQA.

School administration and finance in Scotland

Schools currently receive individual budgets annually from the Scottish Government through local authorities, calculated using formulae based on a range of variables to reflect the age range and situation of the school. Guidance is offered on devolved school management of their finances. Gross revenue expenditure for 2008-09 was:

  • Pre-primary education: £3.19 million
  • Primary schools: £1.79 billion
  • Secondary schools: £2.02 billion
  • Special education: £5.09 million
  • Other expenditure: £2.29 million

Total expenditure was £4.87 billion.

Following a report commissioned by the Scottish Government it is likely that some changes will be made. Changes are likely to include:

  • Cluster level management of budgets, to enable groups of schools - such as primary and secondary schools which share a catchment area - to manage their budgets together. These clusters should also be able to determine their own management structure
  • A national formula for the distribution of money to schools
  • Revisions to the current guidance on devolved school management to set out the roles and responsibilities of schools, local authorities and national government, with new guidance to make sure that schools have more consistent autonomy to manage the budgets that are central to fulfilling their role
  • Schools should not have to deal with budgets over which they cannot exercise control
  • School budgets should be expressed as a cash sum
  • Schools should receive three year budgets aligned to school improvement plans

Further and Higher Education in Scotland

Scotland has fourteen campus-based universities, the Open University in Scotland, one college of higher education, two art schools, one conservatoire, and the Scottish Agricultural College.

Higher Education in Scotland is also delivered via almost all of the further education colleges. There are 43 further education colleges in Scotland whose locations are mapped on the Scottish Funding Council website (http://www.sfc.ac.uk/web/FILES/About_the_Council/Location_of_colleges_in_Scotland.pdf). This includes eight colleges which are partners in the University of the Highlands and Islands.

All of the colleges, except Newbattle Abbey which is a college of adult education, offer higher education programmes as well as vocational training.

As with English further education colleges, there has been a trend over the past twenty years for smaller colleges to merge and form larger organisations. The most recent merger has been the formation in 2010 of the City of Glasgow College , formed from Glasgow Central College and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. Another example was: Glasgow Metropolitan College merged in 2010 to form the City of Glasgow College.

Funding for colleges and higher education in Scotland is allocated by the Scottish Government to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and administered by the Council. The total allocated to colleges in 2011-12 is £545 million by SFC.

College allocations are split into two main categories: general funding and strategic funding. General funding includes recurrent teaching grant, fee waiver grant and student support grant. Further Education (FE) Funding is responsible for managing these elements of the general funding category.

The SFC also allocates funds to influence the geographical supply of education. This includes providing additional funding to the central region, the south region, the west highlands, Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire.

Full-time FE education is free to those deemed legally resident. It is also free to students on discrete courses or who are on certain benefits such as DLA, incapacity benefit etc. Part-time FE education is means tested. Once colleges have submitted their final data, SFC will aim to settle the cost of fee waivers in full or claw back any unused funds.

E-learning in Scotland

For more information about e-learning initiatives in schools, colleges and universities in Scotland, please go to Re.ViCa/VISED wiki

Quality procedures in Scotland


Qualifications at the secondary school and post-secondary (further education) level are provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority - SQA, which is the national awarding and accrediting body in Scotland, and delivered through various schools, colleges and other centres. Political responsibility for education at all levels is vested in the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Education and Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Departments. SQA’s functions are set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 as amended by the Scottish Qualifications Act 2002. SQA has two main roles: accreditation, and awarding qualifications.

SQA accreditation:

  • Authorises all vocational qualifications (other than degrees) delivered in Scotland
  • Proves education and training establishments which plan to enter people for these qualifications

SQA awarding body:

  • Devises and develops qualifications
  • Validates qualifications (makes sure they are well written and meet the needs of learners and tutors)
  • Reviews qualifications to ensure they are up to date
  • Arranges for, assists in, and carries out, the assessment of people taking SQA qualifications
  • Quality-assures education and training establishments which offer SQA qualifications
  • Issues certificates to candidates

Within these roles SQA offers a range of services for businesses and training providers, ranging from course and centre approval through customised awards, to endorsement, credit rating and licensing services.

The main further education qualification framework is provided by SVQs - Scottish Vocational Qualifications . These are parallel to English NVQs - National Vocational Qualifications, and are managed by the SQA.


Inspections and audits of educational standards in Scotland are conducted by three bodies:

  • Care Commission, now Care Inspectorate from 1 April 2011, inspects care standards in pre-school provision.
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education - HMIE inspects for pre-school, primary, secondary, further and community education.
  • Scottish office of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education - QAA Scotland is responsible for higher education.

Post-16 education in Scotland is also overseen by the Scottish Funding Council – SFC.

HMIE (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education) is responsible for inspecting all non-university education provision, including schools and colleges. The Inspection section of the Education Scotland website describes the basis and process of inspection as follows:

  • Having all learners or users at the heart of inspection and review
  • Independence, impartiality and accountability
  • Improvement and capacity-building
  • Building on self-evaluation
  • Observing practice and experiences directly: focusing on outcomes and impact
  • Transparency and mutual respect
  • Partnership working with the users of HMIE services and other providers/scrutiny bodies
  • Proportionality, responsiveness and assessment of risk
  • Best value
  • Equality and diversity

The recently completed inspection cycle covered every local authority primary school over a seven year period and every local authority secondary school over a six year period. This has been followed by annual inspections of a sample of 400 schools each year, to provide a national overview of the quality of school education in Scotland. The HMIE gives detailed guidance for inspection at all levels: pre-school, primary schools, secondary schools, special schools, and independent schools.

The current (2008-2012) framework for college inspections is described in (http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/inspectionandreview/). The quality framework addresses four high level questions, arranged under three key principles:

  • High Quality Learning: How well are learners progressing and achieving relevant, high quality outcomes? How effective are the college's learning and teaching processes?
  • Learner engagement: How well are learners engaged in enhancing their own learning and the life and work of the college?
  • Quality Culture: How well is the college led and how well is it enhancing the quality of its services for learners and other stakeholders?

Internet in United Kingdom

Government policy

The information provided under this section is reproduced from a briefing paper UK Broadband – Policy and Coverage (http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05970.pdf), produced by Emma Downing on 15 June 2011. The briefing paper was provided to Members of Parliament from the House of Commons Library. The briefing paper set out the situation with regard to broadband access and coverage in the UK and provided an overview of the Government’s broadband policy. The work has been reproduced here with permission.

Broadband policy

The UK Government believes that the broadband network and access to it (at a reasonable speed) is fundamental to Britain’s success in the digital era.

The Government’s main broadband commitments were first announced by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport on 8 June 2010. They were then followed up in more detail in a broadband strategy – Britain’s superfast broadband future in December 2010. The key elements of policy are summarised below:

  • Maintenance of the Universal Service Commitment (USC) at a minimum of 2Mbps for all by 2012 within the lifetime of this Parliament
  • Ensuring that the UK has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by the end of the Parliament (2015)
  • Seeking to introduce superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas
  • Four market testing project schemes to bring superfast broadband to rural and hard to reach areas
  • Facilitating mobile broadband
  • Enabling and ensuring access to existing infrastructure to reduce the cost of deployment

Broadband access

The UK has one of the highest levels of broadband penetration in the world. In August 2010, Ofcom Communications market report 2010 reports that broadband was present in 71% of UK households (with fixed broadband at 65% and mobile broadband at 15%).

By 2015, it is expected that the private sector will have made available superfast broadband to two thirds of the population.

The Government’s broadband strategy estimates that superfast services are set to be available to around 50% of the UK population by the end of 2012 and to 19 million premises (66% of the UK population) by 2015. However, around 1.5 million households, often clustered in rural areas, still have little or no broadband availability for technical reasons. According to the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), almost 60% of urban areas were able to receive a cable-based broadband service in April 2010 – in villages and hamlets this drops to 1.5%. Of the 10.2 million adults in the UK who have never even used the internet, 4 million (9% of the population) are also considered socially excluded.

Broadband speed

The latest Ofcome report on UK speeds measures speeds in November/December 2010. It found the UK average broadband speed to be 6.2Mbps compared to the average advertised of over 13Mbps. The average in May 2010 was 5.2Mpbs which was already an increase of 25% since April 2009.

Government’s policy is geared towards ensuring that a digital divide based on broadband speed does not emerge between urban and rural areas. The Government has allocated £530 million to do this with a multi-faceted broadband strategy Britain’s superfast broadband future (December 2010) which seeks to incentivise the deployment of broadband through a variety of technologies with the removal of potential economic and policy barriers.

Mobile broadband

The UK has one of the highest take-up rates of mobile broadband in the world with the take-up of smart phones over double the European average. Ofcom’s communications market report 2010 showed that mobile broadband is driving an overall increase in broadband take-up. Much of the growth in mobile broadband is being driven by households which have it as their only broadband connection and this trend is increasing. Nearly one third of consumers are using the 3G network’s higher bandwidth capabilities and one in four had a smartphone in the first half of 2010.

Ofcom intends to include a coverage obligation of 95% of the UK population in the licence for the 800MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum.

Ofcom’s latest research on the UK mobile market reports that the coverage of mobile networks in the UK is generally good, and better than in other comparable countries. However, Ofcom does acknowledge that coverage issues persist with variations between urban and rural and across regions generally. Ofcom calculates 2G coverage at:

  • 99% of England has 2G coverage
  • Wales and Northern Ireland have 92% coverage
  • Scotland has 89% coverage

The 3G coverage obligation required Wireless Telegraphy Act licence holders to roll out a network covering an area in which 80% of the UK population lives by the end of 2007. Site data was issued to Ofcom by the mobile operators on 14 November 2007. Four of the five 3G licensees were in compliance with the obligation, but O2 was found to reach only 75.69 % of the population, a shortfall that meant around 2.5 million people could not access its service.

Broadband policy in Scotland

The Scottish Government published Scotland’s Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland in March 2011, setting out an ambition that: “... next generation broadband will be available to all by 2020, with significant progress being made by 2015.”

The Scottish Government’s report states that its Broadband Reach Project has now provided basic broadband (defined as 512 kbps - kilobits per second) to over 99% of the Scottish population - a figure comparable with UK coverage levels. This is a major increase from only 43% availability in 2001, when Scotland lagged behind the UK level of 63%.

A new one million pound Euro challenge fund was announced by the Scottish Government in July 2010 aiming to improve the coverage and the speed of broadband in rural areas.

Broadband policy in Wales

In November 2009, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) highlighted concerns that rural parts of Wales may be left behind the urban centres in terms of access to good broadband speeds. They reported that whilst more than 90% of households in Cardiff and Swansea had broadband access at speeds of 8Mbps and above, less than 20% could achieve those speeds in 15 Welsh Local Authority Areas. Within some rural local authorities, such as Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Flintshire, more than 40% of households could access broadband at speeds of more than 2Mbps.

Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) published Delivering a Digital Wales: The Welsh Assembly Government’s outline framework for Action in December 2010 which sets out plans to ensure that Wales accelerates its move towards the benefits of a digital economy. The framework notes that that market deployment of NGA broadband infrastructure in Wales will, to a large extent, remain concentrated in the more densely populated urban centres of South Wales and parts of the North East reaching coverage of around 35%. WAG believes it is therefore reasonable to conclude that “large swathes” of rural Wales will only see rapid, early deployment of new digital next generation infrastructure with some form of public sector intervention.

The Welsh Assembly’s Broadband Support Scheme follows on from the Regional Innovation Broadband Project. Funding of £2 million has been allocated to provide support funding for the purchase of a broadband solution to supply a minimum speed service of 512Kbps to individuals, businesses, third sector organisations and communities.

Broadband policy in Northern Ireland

In January 2011, Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA announced a further £2 million investment in rural broadband through the Next Generation Broadband Network to ensure that rural communities are not left behind. This is on top of the £48 million Next Generation Broadband Project funding provided by BT (£30 million), £16.5m from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and various rural development programmes and European regional development funding. BT has matched the latest £2 million investment with a further £1 million to upgrade an additional 40 cabinets by April 2011. BT have claimed that “Northern Ireland continues to lead the way in Europe for fibre enablement” and that the additional funding means that over 85% of businesses have access to faster, next generation services.

European benchmarks

The UK is particularly looking to European benchmarks on broadband because the Government has set a target to have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.

The Europe 2020 Strategy has underlined the importance of broadband deployment to promote social inclusion and competitiveness in the EU. It restated the objective to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and seeks to ensure that:

  • all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30 Mbps by 2020 and
  • 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps by 2020

Europe’s Digital Competitiveness Report (17 May 2010) provides European comparisons on broadband. The report shows that UK is taking similar measures to improve broadband infrastructure and rural coverage as other leading European ICT countries, such as seeking to maximise mobile broadband coverage, looking for greater infrastructure sharing arrangements and ensuring a competitive telecoms environment so that a variety of operators and technologies can be employed.

Internet access and use

Access to computers and digital devices

The Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) report 2011 shows that households in Britain have become more media-rich. There is the increasing number of computers in the household, with only 16% of households had more than one computer in 2005, 42% of the population had more than one computer in the household in 2011. British households are rapidly acquiring all sorts of digital devices. Almost all households have mobile phones (90%), and more than half have digital cameras (71%), MP3 players (51%) and satellite TV sets (51%) in 2011 [5].

Internet access

The OxIS 2011 report states that Internet use in Britain grows from just over 60% in 2003 to 73% in 2011, whereas the number of people who have never used the Internet (non-users) has fallen from 28% to 23%. Wireless connectivity has radically transformed the way people connect to the Internet. 80% of users access the Internet in the household with WiFi connections, and 40% via mobile phones. WiFi access now exceeds telephone line access, which has dropped to 73% in 2011. The rise of wireless access in the household facilitates portability and the use of multiple devices in the household. While home access remains the primary way to access the Internet, other places such as schools, libraries and Internet cafés also remain important. With the exception of work access, all locations of use have remained stable or increased slightly compared to 2009. Most notable is the dramatic increase in the use of the Internet on the move, rising from 20% in 2009 to 40% in 2011. Another strong growth is accessing email or the Internet from mobile phone - only 11% used their mobile phone to access the Internet in 2005, compared to 36% in 2011 [5].

Internet use

The OxIS 2011 report identifies that people turn to the Internet for four things [5]:

  • Seeking information: Searching for news and local events information has increased the most compared to other things searched for since 2009. Employed people are the most likely to seek information on the Internet, compared to students or retired respondents.
  • Entertainment: In contrast to information seeking, where employed respondents dominate, students are more likely than employed to use the Internet for entertainment. Interestingly, men are more likely than women to use the Internet for entertainment by margins of up to 15 percentage points.
  • Online services: Such as shopping or bill paying
  • Creative activities and production of content: This is one effect of the considerable simplification of production made possible by social media. More complex and difficult forms of content production such as blogs and personal websites seem to have stabilised at under 25% of the population. Students, with their large amounts of free time, are the largest producers of content.

Use of online government services overall has been increasing since 2005, but use of specific services is remarkably low. Despite recent attempts to encourage online payment of fees and taxes, for example, less than one-quarter of respondents have done so in the past year. Political participation is not a common activity - the highest participation is about 20% for signing a petition, and that was offline. Online participation is lower [5].

Trends in Internet use

The OxIS 2011 report identifies two trends in Internet use, namely social networking and next generation users [5]:

  • Social networks: Use of social networking sites represents the single largest increase in Internet use over the past two years, now reaching 60%. The “network effect”, where something becomes proportionally more valuable when more people use it, has been a powerful force promoting social network use, as well as other applications of the Internet that support communication. Schooling is not related to posting content on social networking sites in a consistent and linear fashion. Instead, those with further education tend to be the most active on social network sites. Respondents with a university degree or more tend to be more active in using the sites to engage with the public sphere by reading the news or following politics.
  • The emergence of next generation users: In contrast to the first generation of Internet users who access the Internet based primarily on the use of a personal computer in one’s household, linked to the Internet through a modem or broadband connection, the next generation user is defined by the emergence of two separate but related trends: portability and access through multiple devices. First, there has been a continuing increase in the proportion of users with portable devices, using the Internet over one or another mobile device, such as a smart phone. In 2003 this was a small proportion. At that time, 85% of British people had a mobile phone but only 11% of mobile phone users said they accessed email or the Internet over their mobile phone. By 2009, 97% of British people owned a mobile phone, and the proportion of users accessing email or the Internet over their phone doubled to 24% – albeit still a minority of users. In 2011, this increased to nearly half (49%) of all users. Now in 2011, the mobile phone is one of a number of devices for accessing the Internet that are portable within and outside the household. Secondly, Internet users often have more devices, such as multiple computers, readers, tablets, and laptop computers, in addition to mobile phones, to access the Internet. In 2009, only 19% had a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Since then, the development of readers and tablets has boomed, such as with Apple’s successful introduction of the iPad. The very notion of a PDA has become antiquated. In 2011, almost one-third of Internet users had a reader or a tablet with 6% having both devices. Fully 59% have access to the Internet via one or more of these multiple devices other than the household personal computer. In 2011, 44.4% of Internet users in Britain were next generation users.

Digital divide

Despite multiple government and private initiatives aimed at bringing people online, digital divides remain in access to the Internet. Examples of digital divide identified by the OxIS 2011 report are [5]:

  • 23% of the British population are without access to the Internet
  • The gender divide has disappeared
  • Age, education, occupation and income continue to divide users. The young, wealthy and well-educated continue to be the most engaged online. The elderly, the retired and the poorly educated tend to be least likely to use the Internet, and they are the most fearful of technology ‘breaking’ or ‘failing’ when they need it most.
  • Work use of the Internet varies widely across different occupations from almost 100% to virtually zero
  • For non-users, lack of interest is by far the most important single reason for non-use. These people have chosen to remain offline instead of being excluded, making the digital divide very difficult to bridge. Over half of non-users express fears about the Internet or technology.
  • For ex-users, expense and access (the traditional exclusion barriers) are much more important.
  • Next generation users are more positive and less negative about the internet on all dimensions.
  • Disability, such as health-related problems, remains a key source of digital exclusion. Internet use by people with a disability remained steady from 2009 to 2011, at 41%, and is about half that of non-disabled (78%).

Internet in education

Internet in schools

The reports ICT provision & use in 2010/11, and ICT provision & use in 2009/10, produced by BESA, provide information on the ICT provision and use in state schools (primary and secondary) in the UK [7] [8]:

ICT provision Primary schools Secondary schools
Well-equipped with desktop computers 58% 64%
Well-equipped with laptop computers 43% 41%
Access to computer equipment for teachers 71% 70%
Number of desktop computers per school 30.8 238.7
Number of laptop computers per school 18.6 (in 2009) 86
Ratio of pupils per computer (in 2009) 6.9 pupils per computer 4.2 pupils per computer
Internet access and broadband connectivity 68% 55%
Wireless networking (in 2009) 73.6% 88.4%
Bandwidth 9Mbps 31Mbps
Internet access for teachers 88% 75%
Internet access for pupils 55% 60%
Digital content 48% 32%
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) 42% 47%
Interactive whiteboards (IWB) 87% 64%
Confidence in using ICT in teachers (in 2009) 70% 60%
Participation in ICT training (in 2009) 59% 55%

Computer provision

ICT provision & use in 2010/11, and ICT provision & use in 2009/10 show that schools continued to invest in ICT in 2009 and 2010, with 58% of primary and 64% of secondary schools indicating that they were well-equipped with desktop computers in 2010, compared to a third for both primary and secondary schools in 2001. Desktop computer provision was estimated at an average of 30.8 desktop computers per school in primary schools, and 238.7 desktop computers per school in secondary schools in 2010 [7] [8].

For laptop computers, schools continued to feel under-equipped, with only 43% of primary and 41% of secondary schools suggesting that they were well-equipped in 2010. As a result, demand for laptop computers remained strong with around a third of all schools having an extensive requirement by April 2011. Laptop computer provision was estimated at an average of 18.6 laptop computers per school in primary schools (in 2009)[8], and 86 laptop computers per school in secondary schools in 2010 [7].

On average pupil to computer ratio was estimated at 6.9 pupils per computer in primary schools in 2009, down from 7.4 pupils per computer in 2005, and 4.2 pupils per computer in secondary schools, down from 5.5 pupils per computer in 2005 [8].

71% of primary and 70% of secondary schools provided teachers with good access to computer equipment for curriculum purposes in 2010 [7].

Internet provision

ICT provision & use in 2010/11 shows that in 2010, 68% of primary and 55% of secondary schools were well-equipped with internet access and broadband connectivity. 73.6% of primary and 88% of secondary schools recorded ownership of wireless networking in 2009. In addition, 6% of primary and 5% of secondary schools intended to commence the use of wireless networking in April 2010. Primary schools recorded an average bandwidth of 9Mbps in 2010. For secondary schools the levels were expected to increase from an average of 31Mbps in 2010. 88% of primary and 75% of secondary schools provided good internet access levels to teachers. 55% of primary and 60% of secondary schools provided good internet access to pupils in 2010 [7].

Digital content provision

ICT provision & use in 2009/10 shows that 48% of primary and 32% of secondary schools were well-equipped with online software and content in 2009, indicating a significant improvement, compared to 19% of primary and 9% of secondary schools in 2006. ICT leaders reported an expected improvement in 2011 of 14%, bringing the percentage of secondary schools being well equipped with resources to 46%. In addition, nearly two-thirds of schools made significant use of the internet for free downloads of online curriculum software or content products, while 42% of primary and 48% of secondary schools made significant use of paid-for online software and content in 2009 [8].

Learning platforms

ICT provision & use in 2010/11 shows that around 42% of primary and 47% of secondary schools were well-equipped with Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in 2010. This result showed a significant improvement from 2006, with only 3% of primary and 12% of secondary schools had the VLE at the time [7].

Note: In the UK a Learning Management System (LMS) is usually referred to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

Interactive Whiteboards

ICT provision & use in 2010/11 shows that the provision of interactive whiteboards (IWB) had improved significantly over the past few years. 87% of primary schools were well-equipped with IWBs in 2010, compared to only 25% in 2005. In 2005, only 18% of secondary schools were well-equipped with IWBs, which had risen to 64% in 2010 [7].

In 2009 there were estimated 177,200 IWBs in primary schools with a further 104,800 in secondary schools – an average of 8.6 units in primary and 25.2 in secondary schools [8].

The IWBs were generally used for presentations and interactive activities in classrooms. They were widely used in the primary and secondary schools, but not by HE institutions.

Staff confidence in ICT

ICT provision & use in 2009/10 showes that 70% of primary and 60% of secondary teachers were confident and competent suing ICT in curriculum in 2009, down from 80% from primary and 68% from secondary in 2007. The number of teachers who received training had decreased, with 59% of primary and 55% of secondary teachers received training in 2009, compared to 67% of primary and 72% of secondary teachers in 2008 [8].

ICT budgets

ICT provision & use in 2010/11 states that in recent years schools had continued to expand budgets for a broad range of ICT products and services. In 2009 UK state schools recorded ICT budgets (excluding curriculum software and digital content) of £577 million – up by £50 million on 2005 levels of £527 million. Since 2009 there had been a reduction in average recorded budgets by both primary and secondary schools. Budgets for 2010 were estimated to be £23 million less in primary and £17 million across secondary schools. On a per-school basis, this equates to an average reduction in 2010 of about £1,000 per primary and £4,000 per secondary school [7].

For 2011 there was anticipated to be a further decline in ICT budgets to £502 million from £537 million in 2010. The reduction in budgets in primary schools was forecasted to be nearly 6% lower, while across secondary schools ICT budgets were forecasted to be 7% lower. Hence, the average primary ICT budget was £12,200 and for the average secondary school it was £56,200 in 2011 [7].

School networking

In England, National Education Network – NEN connects 150 authorities, of which 138 have formed 10 Regional Broadband Consortia (RBCs). NEN is the UK collaborative network for education, providing schools with a safe, secure and reliable learning environment and direct access to a growing range of online services and content) In Northern Ireland, Wide Area Network for all schools in Northern Ireland is managed by Classroom 2000 - C2K.

In Scotland 32 authorities are connected via Scottish Schools Digital Network (SSDN) via Glow Intranet. In Wales 22 authorities are connected to Lifelong Learning Network for Wales – LLNW. All these school networks are interconnected to Janet, the network dedicated to the needs of research and education in the UK.

Internet in Further Education

The report ICT and e-learning in further education, produced by BECTA in 2006 provides information on the ICT provision and use in English further education and sixth-form colleges in 2006, compared to data from previous years [6]:

ICT provision 2006 Previous years
Total number of computers 380,000 160,000 (in 1999)
Ratio of FTE students per internet-enabled computer 4.8:1 21:1 (in 1999)
One internet-connected computer for every permanent teaching staff 58% 15% (in 2001)
Computers connected to the internet 95% 30% (in 1999)
Satisfaction with internet use 51% -
Bandwidth 4Mbps or 10Mbps -
Campuses connected to Local Area Networks (LANs) 94% -
Satisfaction with network performance 61% -
Use of e-learning materials 52% -
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) 82% 58% (in 2003)
Electronic whiteboards 98% -
Staff confidence in ICT skills 78% 67% (in 2000)
Staff confidence in e-learning skills 62% 42% (in 2000)

Computer provision

ICT and e-learning in further education states that colleges had a robust ICT infrastructure. It was estimated that the total number of computers in the 388 English colleges was around 380,000 in 2006, more than double the estimated total in 1999 (160,000). Colleges purchased 80,000 computers in 2006. This enabled the current level of computer stock of FE colleges to be replaced every five years.It was estimated that the ratio of FTE students per internet-enabled computer was 4.8:1 at the time of the survey in 2006. This was a vast improvement on the 1999 ratio of 21:1 [6].

The provision of computers for the use of staff had improved on previous years. The target of one internet-connected computer for every permanent member of teaching staff was achieved or bettered by 58% of colleges. This had improved from a level of 26% of colleges in 2003, and 15% in 2001. Just under half the institutions surveyed (47%) reported that they could not cope with the demand for computers in 1999. This level stood at 30% in 2006 [6].

Internet and broadband provision

ICT and e-learning in further education shows improvements in access to the internet. The vast majority of these 380,000 computers (95%) allowed access to the internet in 2006, compared to 38% in 1999. Internet connections and networks had been upgraded. Some 51% of respondents described access to computers for internet use as ‘easy at any time’ in 2006. This was an improvement on the previous two years [6].

During 2004–5, the UK Education and Research Networking Association (UKERNA) began a phased programme of bandwidth upgrades of JANET (provided by JISC) connections for FE and sixth-form colleges to 4Mbps or 10Mbps. This migration had largely taken place by 2006. At the time of the survey, 69% of colleges did not plan to purchase any additional bandwidth. A large number of colleges upgraded their local area networks (LANs) between 2004 and 2005, perhaps to make best use of the new bandwidth upgrades. This improvement continued into 2006. Gigabit Ethernet has become the dominant feature of FE college networks. 100Mbps Ethernet declined dramatically over the last year and 10Mbps Ethernet was used by a very small number of colleges [6].

Local Area Networks (LANs)

ICT and e-learning in further education shows that 94% of colleges had all their major sites connected to the college network. Colleges continued to restrict network traffic in bandwidth-hungry applications. 70% of colleges identified large files as an actual or potential source of problems on the network, and sought to control their use. Relatively few colleges allowed students to connect their own devices to the college network. Some 77% of respondents reported that their college did not permit this. The remaining colleges allowed students to make a physical connection (12%), or a wireless connection (10%), or both of these (1%). However, 69% of colleges allowed remote access to college systems to all students. There was a steady improvement in network performance over the period 1999–2006. A clear majority of colleges (61%) described their network performance as always smooth, and 37% reported their network performance to be slow at busy times [6].

Learning platforms

ICT and e-learning in further education states that commercial or open-source Learning Management Systems (LMSs) /Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) had continued to be increasingly widely used. In 2006, 82% of colleges used a VLE, compared to 58% in 2003 [6].

Note: In the UK a Learning Management System (LMS) is usually referred to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

E-learning resources

ICT and e-learning in further education indicates that e-learning materials continued to be most often used at the discretion of the individual teacher. This was the case in 52% of the colleges surveyed. Most colleges obtained learning materials from a wide range of sources. The internet was again the most frequently used source of learning materials, being used in 97% of colleges and regarded as common practice in 31%. Some 91% of colleges stated that they made use of in-house-developed materials [6].

Display screen technologies

ICT and e-learning in further education shows that display screen technologies had made significant inroads into teaching practice. All the colleges that replied to the question about display screen technologies (98%) used data projectors, and only 2% of colleges stated that electronic whiteboards were not available in their college [6].

Staff ICT and e-learning skills

ICT and e-learning in further education states that across the sector as a whole, respondents considered that 78% of staff were competent or advanced in their personal use of ICT (for example, word processing or using spreadsheets), compared with 67% in 2000. However, in the use of ICT with learners (e-learning skills), 62% of college staff were considered competent or advanced (in 2000 the figure was 42%) [6].

Policy and strategies for ICT and e-learning

ICT and e-learning in further education shows that 34% of colleges set formal targets for the use of ICT and e-learning across all programmes. A further 36% set targets where they considered these appropriate, and 26% did not set targets for ICT and e-learning at all [6].

Internet in Higher Education

Policy and strategies for e-learning

Conole et al. (2007) produce a review of the policies and funding for e-learning in the UK HE since the beginning of the century. The review notes that a more coherent and joined-up approach to the application of technologies has emerged since 2000, with more evidence of large-scale e-learning programmes with overarching themes, for example, the Joint Information Systems Committee’s (JISC’s) e-pedagogy programme and e-framework initiative, and alignment with strategy, for example the HEFCE e-learning strategy and DfES e-learning strategy. There are two distinct shifts in perspective: from a focus on using technology as an individualised, instructional tool to a more discursive and communicative medium, and from niche-based software environments to overarching organising systems [11].

Conole et al. (2007) conclude that there is more coherence emerging at a national level with both the HEFCE and the DfES developing e-learning strategies and a working group has been established across the funding bodies to develop a multi-disciplinary cross-funding-body programme on e-learning research. Together this strategic and funding coherence shows evidence that the area is maturing and that there is better dialogue between policy-makers, funders, and practitioners, but that national strategies keep it in a political domain [11].


Janet is the network dedicated to the needs of research and education in the UK. Janet is government funded, with the primary aim of providing and developing a network infrastructure that meets the needs of the research and education communities.

The Janet network connects UK universities, FE Colleges, Research Councils, Specialist Colleges and Adult and Community Learning providers. It also provides connections between the Regional Broadband Consortia to facilitate the DfE initiative for a national schools’ network. Over 18 million end-users are currently served by the Janet network. The majority of these sites are connected via 20 metropolitan areas across the UK. The network also carries traffic between schools within the UK, although many of the schools' networks maintain their own general Internet connectivity. It is linked to other European and worldwide NRENs through GEANT and peers extensively with other ISPs at Internet Exchange Points in the UK. Any other networks are reached via transit services from commercial ISPs.

The range of activities facilitated by Janet allows individuals and institutions to push back the traditional boundaries of teaching, learning and research methods. For example, Janet’s videoconferencing and video streaming capabilities are being used to deliver lectures to remote groups of students. For researchers, the high capacity of the Janet backbone allows the linking of large data storage and high performance computing facilities at a national and international level.

Janet manages the operation and development on behalf of JISC for the UK Further and Higher Education Funding Councils. JISC also works in partnership with the Research Councils.

eduroam is a popular worldwide network access service which is implemented on a federated basis. eduroam provides the user with authenticated network logon and access to the Internet through a single Wi-Fi profile and set of credentials, wherever the service has been made available by participating organisations. Janet is the UK provider of eduroam.

Copyright law in United Kingdom

Copyright law in UK

Information provided under this section is reproduced from the Fact sheet P-01: UK copyright law (http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law), and the Fact sheet P-27: Using the work of others (http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p27_work_of_others), produced by the UK Copyright Service. The works are copyright © The UK Copyright Service and reproduced here with permission.


Copyright law originated in the United Kingdom from a concept of common law - the Statute of Anne 1709. It became statutory with the passing of the Copyright Act 1911. The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Copyright owner

Copyright is an automatic right and arises whenever an individual or company creates a work. To qualify, a work should be regarded as original, and exhibit a degree of labour, skill or judgement. Normally the individual or collective who authored the work will exclusively own the work and is referred to as the ‘first owner of copyright’ under the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. However, if a work is produced as part of employment then the first owner will normally be the company that is the employer of the individual who created the work. Freelance or commissioned work will usually belong to the author of the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, (i.e. in a contract for service).

Types of work covered

The law gives the creators of the following types of work rights to control the ways in which their material may be used.

  • Literary: Song lyrics, manuscripts, manuals, computer programs, commercial documents, leaflets, newsletters and articles etc.
  • Dramatic: Plays, dance, etc.
  • Musical: Recordings and score
  • Artistic: Photography, painting, architecture, technical drawings/diagrams, maps, logos, etc.
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions: Magazines, periodicals, etc.
  • Sound recordings: Musical and literary
  • Films: video footage, films, broadcasts and cable programmes

Duration of rights

The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act states the duration of copyright as:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works: 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc. The Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations 1992 extended the rules covering literary works to include computer programs.
  • Sound recordings and broadcasts: 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised release, performance, broadcast, etc.
  • Films: 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last principal director, author or composer dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions: 25 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published.
  • Broadcasts and cable programmes: 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published.
  • Crown Copyright: Crown copyright will exist in works made by an officer of the Crown. This includes items such as legislation and documents and reports produced by government bodies. Crown Copyright will last for a period of 125 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made. If the work was commercially published within 75 years of the end of the calendar year in which it was made, Crown copyright will last for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was published.
  • Parliamentary Copyright: Parliamentary Copyright will apply to work that is made by or under the direction or control of the House of Commons or the House of Lords and will last until 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made.

Restricted acts

It is an offence to perform any of the following acts without the consent of the owner:

  • Copy the work
  • Rent, lend or issue copies of the work to the public
  • Perform, broadcast or show the work in public
  • Adapt the work

The author of a work, or a director of a film may also have certain moral rights:

  • The right to be identified as the author
  • Right to object to derogatory treatment

Using the work of others

You may use the work of others if:

  • Copyright has expired
  • Your use of the work is fair dealing as defined under the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act (UK)
  • Your use of the work is covered under a licensing scheme that you have subscribed to and the copyright holder is a member of
  • The copyright holder has given you permission

Licensing schemes

There are a number of agencies that operate licensing schemes and collect royalties on behalf of copyright owners, the most notable are:

  • Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA): CLA provides licenses for organisations, such as schools and libraries, to copy extracts from print and digital publications. There are several different licences (photocopying, scanning, electronic reproduction, etc.). State schools may be able to obtain CLA licences via their local education authority if the authority is a CLA agent.
  • Educational Recording Agency (ERA): ERA operates a licensing scheme enabling educational use of copyright protected material from radio and television programmes.
  • The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS): DACS operates a licensing scheme and on behalf of artists and visual creators.

Fair dealing

Fair dealing is a term used to describe some limited activities that are allowed without infringing copyright. Briefly these are as follows:

  • Research and private study: Copying parts of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or of a typographical arrangement of a published edition for the purpose of research or private study is allowed under the following conditions:
  • The copy is made for the purposes of research or private study.
  • The copy is made for non-commercial purposes.
  • The source of the material is acknowledged.
  • The person making the copy does not make copies of the material available for a number of people.
  • Instruction or examination: Copying parts of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a sound recording, film or broadcast for the purpose of instruction or examination is allowed under the following conditions:
  • The copying is done by the student or the person giving instruction.
  • The copying is not done via a reprographic process.
  • The source of the material is acknowledged.
  • The instruction is for a non-commercial purpose.
  • Criticism or review: Quoting parts of a work for the purpose of criticism or review is permitted provided that:
  • The work has been made available to the public.
  • The source of the material is acknowledged.
  • The material quoted must be accompanied by some actual discussion or assessment (to warrant the criticism or review classification).
  • The amount of the material quoted is no more than is necessary for the purpose of the review.
  • News reporting: Using material for the purpose of reporting current events is permitted provided that:
  • The work is not a photograph.
  • The source of the material is acknowledged.
  • The amount of the material quoted is no more than is necessary for the purpose.
  • Incidental inclusion: This is where part of one work is unintentionally included in another. The incidental inclusion of a work in an artistic work, sound recording, film or broadcast is not an infringement. A typical example of this would be a case where a news broadcast inadvertently captured part of a copyright work, such as some background music, or a poster that just happened to on a wall in the background.
  • Accessibility for someone with a visual impairment: It is considered fair dealing to make an accessible copy of a work for someone with an visual impairment if a suitable accessible version is not already available.

For further details on UK fair dealing rules please refer to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, Section 28 onwards covers this area in full. Those outside the UK should consult the fair dealing/fair use sections of their own national legislation.

Copyright law in education

Information provided under this section is reproduced from the General guidelines on copyright (http://www.ict4lt.org/), produced by G. Davies in 2012. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, and reproduced here with permission.


This section provides a summary of the UK copyright law and its relevance to Further and Higher Education in UK.

Copyright protects original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, sound recordings, films or broadcasts, and the typographical arrangement (layout) of published editions. In the educational context, this will usually include works such as teaching materials and blogs. Software (computer programs) and databases may be protected as literary works, in addition to other possible rights.

In general, the copyright law applies to educational work, and there are no special concessions for education. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to prevent any third party from doing any of the following without permission:

  • Copy the work: such as photocopying, scanning in texts or images and reproducing them in electronic format, and duplicating audio and video recordings
  • Communicate copies of the work to the public: includes, such as making a copy available on a public website or intranet
  • Perform a drama or play, a piece of music or a song before the public: such as making recordings of such performances and uploading them to a public website or intranet
  • Make an adaptation of the work, also known as creating a derivative work

Staff and students of colleges and universities are likely to use work that belongs to others extensively. Compliance with copyright law and instilling respect for the rights of others is therefore a necessary part of managing the risks associated with large numbers of learners engaging with learning environments and new technologies. The licensing schemes provided under section Licensing schemes will help schools and colleges stay within the law when using copyright materials. A useful summary of which kinds of licences are needed by schools can be found in this guide to copyright licensing in schools, http://www.licensing-copyright.org. See also the Intellectual Property Office website's section on education, http://www.ipo.gov.uk/education.htm.

In addition, you should always consult the copyright holder for permission or look for their Terms of Use before using their material, and acknowledge the author and source of the material properly.

Copyright owner

In UK a college or university is usually the owner of the works created by its staff. However there are exceptions. It differs from institution to institution, and even within a single institution there might be different policies for different purposes. For example, at the University of Bath, academics own copyright for campus-based courses, but not for distance courses.

Copyright protects works ranging from learning materials, information booklets and computer programs to music or paintings, also protects sound recordings, broadcasts, images and films that are created by the institution’s staff.

The Copyright Law Essentials produced by JISC states who is the copyright owner of work produced in the FE or HE employment sector:

  • The author of a work is the first owner of copyright in that work
  • If a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, or a film, is created by an employee in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of copyright subject to any contrary agreement
  • In the case of works created by students in a college or university, copyright ownership rests with the student unless there is a valid agreement in the student contract that confers ownership on the institution. This, however, will only be enforceable if it passes a test of fairness in law.

Copyright law amendments

Important changes to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 Act came into force in October 2003, following a European Union Directive passed in 2001, and resulted in important amendments, especially amendments relating to the dissemination of copyright material via the Internet. Essentially, this means that copyright law in the context of online learning has been tightened up, whereby only the copyright owner has the right to authorise the electronic transmission of the copyright owner's work to the public. Distribution of materials over the Internet or an intranet could infringe this new right if the materials include texts, images, audio recordings and video recordings that are owned by a third party.

The term communication to the public is used in the new regulations and should be understood in a broad sense, covering all communication to the public not present at the place where the communication originates. This covers any transmission or retransmission of a work to the public by wire or wireless means, including broadcasting. This means you must obtain the copyright owner’s permission before posting the owner’s work on the Internet, an educational intranet or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), including password-protected websites and VLEs.

There is also a new obligation that sufficient acknowledgement, e.g. the author's name plus a bibliographical citation, is required. Search the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 in particular for the phrases of communication to the public and sufficient acknowledgement.

There are also implications of new regulations on fair dealing. Much of the copying that goes on within HEIs and FEIs is defensible because of the well-known "fair dealing" exception to copyright, which has permitted copying for research or private study. The law has changed significantly in this regard. This exception is reduced to fair dealing only for research for a non-commercial purpose, or for private study. Furthermore, "private study" is now defined as not including "any study which is directly or indirectly for a commercial purpose". This could have significant implications for those undertaking private study with a view to gaining money in the future.

The following sections will provide a summary of copyright law and its relevance to UK FE and HE institutions, especially the impact of the new regulations on the work of UK colleges and universities.

Printed materials

For printed materials, the institution's CLA licence is likely to cover the requirements if the materials are used only in-house. The CLA entitles licensees to copy a wide range of copyright materials without seeking copyright clearance, while ensuring that authors and publishers are appropriately reimbursed for the use of their intellectual property. The CLA's licences also include artistic works through its agreement with the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS).

Note that the CLA licence does not entitle you to copy whole works and there are restrictions regarding the making of multiple copies for classroom use. In general, the main limitations of the CLA licence are: no copying may exceed 5% of the published volume or issue or, if greater:

  • one complete chapter from a book,
  • or one article from a journal or periodical,
  • or a short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length published in the above listed countries.

No systematic or repeated copying of the same material which would breach the above limitations is permitted during any one course of study/module, i.e. progressively copying more than the above limitations for the same class of pupils.

The CLA licence does not cover all publications. Publishers, authors and artists not covered are listed at the CLA website. Newspapers are also excluded. See the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) website for information regarding the copying of materials from British newspapers and a number of foreign newspapers. Under new regulations, making multiple copies of printed materials, for example extracts from books, newspapers and magazines, for distribution to your students is not automatically considered to be fair dealing and can only be carried out under the terms of your Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence.

There are also restrictions to the storage of copied materials in electronic format and making them available to students and staff over a network. Recent changes to the CLA licensing scheme for FE, HE and adult education institutions specify what are allowed to do with materials in electronic format.

The Internet

Under the recent copyright legislation, all materials published on the web (texts, images, audio files and video files) are subject to copyright and may not be disseminated, such as copied and pasted into your own website, without the copyright owner's permission.

Compiling a website containing chunks of other people's work that you have downloaded from their websites without asking their permission is likely to be in breach of copyright, and possibly considered as plagiarism.

Compilations of lists of websites, together with their URLs and short descriptions, is not an infringement of copyright. Such lists of links may also be considered as original works and are therefore protected by copyright law and may not be copied without the compiler's permission.

Electronic materials

There are important points relating to fair dealing with regard to electronic materials under the new regulations, especially with Webwhacking, which is a term used to describe the process of saving entire websites for use offline. It may breach copyright when copying the website to a local drive, either a network server or a stand-alone computer's hard drive. Fair dealing permits you to do the following:

  • Make a temporary copy of a web page, otherwise known as caching, as it is integral to accessing the Internet
  • Print a single copy of a web page, although not the whole website, for private study or research
  • Make a single copy of a web page, although not the whole website, to a hard drive or other storage media, as long as it is not for the purpose of producing multiple copies
  • Quote from a web page as long as the source is acknowledged and it is for the purpose of criticism or review
  • Make a temporary copy of a web page for the purpose of electronic transmission such as email, to an individual for their private study or research. The copy should be deleted as soon as the transmission is complete.

Audio and video materials

Audio and video materials, whether they are publicly broadcast materials or commercially produced materials distributed on cassette, CD or DVD, are subject to a number of restrictions.

Unauthorised copying of commercially produced audio or video materials is generally not allowed. Some publishers give blanket permission for making copies within a non-commercial educational environment, and others sell licences that permit copies to be made for students' use, but making copies of commercially produced audio and video materials and passing them on to third parties normally constitutes a serious infringement of copyright. Even transferring audio and video materials from one format to another may not be permitted, e.g. from cassette to CD-ROM or DVD, or into MP3 or MP4 format.

It is not permitted to make commercially produced recordings available on an institutional intranet or on a public website unless you have explicit permission to do so, as this constitutes communication to the public defined in recent copyright legislation.

However, there are considerable concessions for educational institutions that have bought an Educational Recording Agency (ERA) licence to use publicly broadcast audio and video materials. Under an ERA licence institutions are allowed to record, for educational purposes, terrestrial broadcast radio and television programmes, either at home or within the institution. There is no restriction on the number of copies made and on how long they may be kept. It is also permitted to record extracts or part of a programme or to compile extracts from different programmes. But it is not permitted to adapt, alter or distort a recording.

Satellite TV and cable TV broadcasts are not governed by ERA licences. It is permitted to make recordings from satellite and cable TV, store them and copy them for use within your educational institution, i.e. on-campus. Making multiple copies of such recordings for distribution off-campus, e.g. to students, is another matter and educational institutions should be cautious when doing this.

Open University broadcasts are not covered by the ERA licence. A separate licence from the Open University must be obtained for these programmes. To date only The Open University has set up a licensing scheme covering its own programmes.

Most commercially produced DVDs and videocassettes carry a warning indicating that they can only be used for private and not public screening. DVDs or videocassettes shown in educational institutions for the purposes of "instruction" are normally not considered as public screenings, so they can be shown if they are used for teaching rather than for "entertainment". Essentially, you need a Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) to show films for entertainment purposes, but if a film is shown as part of the curriculum it does not require a copyright licence. The PVSL does not allow for screenings for commercial or money-making purposes, but such licences can be purchased from Filmbank. Bear in mind that the PVSL only covers your school's staff and students. If guests are invited to a screening then you need to purchase a Single Title Screening Licence (STSL). Although there is usually a clear distinction between screening for "entertainment" and screening for "instruction", it may be advisable for an educational institution to purchase a PVSL in order to cover all eventualities.

Broadcasts recorded under ERA licence are subject to new legislation. There is a new Clause which states that copyright is not infringed if communication to the public occurs as long as any person outside the premises of the educational establishment cannot receive the communication. This could potentially prevent distance learners at educational establishments having access via the Internet or Intranet to such recordings. The problem will not apply to those broadcasts covered by the ERA licence.


YouTube clips downloaded onto personal website, blog, wiki or VLE is in breach of copyright. But linking to a video's URL at the YouTube site or embedding the link code is not likely to be a problem. Similarly, video clips downloaded from the Dailymotion site and uploaded onto to personal website, blog, wiki or VLE is also in breach of copyright.


Copyright on images is regarded by their creators, and they are generally well protected under copyright law. There are restrictions on the use of some clipart libraries. It may be allowed to disseminate clipart if it has been declared copyright-free, but this is usually subject to due acknowledgment of the source and, in some cases, the payment of a fee. Always look for images that are tagged as ‘free to use’ or that have a Creative Commons licence.

Copyright reforms

The UK Government has announced plans to modernise intellectual property laws. The Hargreaves Review on intellectual property reform was requested to review the benefits of introducing a fair use exception. In its report Digital opportunity: A review of intellectual property and growth, released in May 2011, it concluded that importing fair use “was unlikely to be legally feasible in Europe and that the UK could achieve many of its benefits by taking up copyright exceptions already permitted under EU law and arguing for an additional exception, designed to enable EU copyright law to accommodate future technological change where it does not threaten copyright owners.” The Government has accepted the following recommendations made in Hargreaves’ independent review (http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2011/aug/reforming-ip):

  • UK should have a Digital Copyright Exchange - a digital market place where licences in copyright content can be readily bought and sold.
  • Copyright exceptions covering limited private copying should be introduced to realise growth opportunities. Thousands of people copy legitimately purchased content, such as a CD to a computer or portable device such as an iPod, assuming it is legal. This move will bring copyright law into line with the real world, and with consumers’ reasonable expectations.
  • Copyright exceptions to allow parody should also be introduced to benefit UK production companies and make it legal for performing artists, such as comedians, to parody someone else’s work without seeking permission from the copyright holder. It would enable UK production companies to create programmes that could play to their creative strengths, and create a range of content for broadcasters.
  • The introduction of an exception to copyright for search and analysis techniques known as ‘text and data mining’, allowing research scientists such as medical researchers greater access to data.
  • Establishing licensing and clearance procedures for orphan works (material with unknown copyright owners). This would open up a range of works that are currently locked away in libraries and museums and unavailable for consumer or research purposes.
  • Evidence should drive future policy – The Government has strengthened the Intellectual Property Office’s economics team and has begun a programme of research to highlight growth opportunities.

Alongside the Government response, a new intellectual property crime strategy and international strategy for intellectual property (http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipresponse) have been published.

Open access

Open Access refers to free online access to the outputs of publicly funded research. It is part of a broader movement toward more open approaches.

Open access policy

The UK government recognises that free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/Pages/outputs.aspx/). As major bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general public.

In June 2012 the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings published the report Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications , also known as the Finch report. The report sets out an encouraging and challenging road map to improve open access to scholarly literature and the Research Councils have used the findings of the group to further develop the policies that they have had in place since 2005.

The UK Research Councils are committed to the guiding principles that publicly funded research must be made available to the public and remain accessible for future generations. They have pledged to:

  • Build on their mandates on grant - holders to deposit research papers in suitable repositories within an agreed time period
  • Extend their support for publishing in Open Access journals, including through the pay-to-publish model

Examples of UK research funding bodies drivering open access are:


The University of Southampton developed the EPrints software as a vehicle for creating open access archives of research output in 1990s. Since then more and more institutions have set up similar repositories and these are now recognised as important mechanisms for valuing and showcasing institutions’ intellectual assets.

The SHERPA site provides a list of UK institutional repositories currently available.

JISC open access

As the major funding body for UK higher education, JISC strongly supports open access and encourages authors to publish in open access journals, self-archive their articles in repositories, or both (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2010/openaccessmainbrochure.aspx).

JISC recognises that open access benefits UK research by increasing its impact and enabling researchers to use any such outputs they might need for their work, and benefits the UK economy by enabling innovation, policy and practice better to draw from rigorous academic research.

JISC has funded a number of projects promoting open access, examples include:

  • JISC has funded 70 projects to help institutions to build their first repositories or to improve existing ones.
  • JISC's Welsh Repository Network project , in partnership with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, has put a repository in every higher education institution in Wales, making it the first country in the UK, and one of the few in the world, to achieve that coverage.
  • The JISC Repositories Roadmap programme sets out to provide greater benefits to institutions and researchers by extending services such as providing profiles and bibliographies, collecting statistics, implementing robust preservation policies, and expanding to include research data and learning resources.
  • JISC has co-funded an authoritative directory of institutional and subject-based repositories, OpenDOAR, to include over 1,500 repository entries from around the globe, and provide a more focused search by selecting repositories that are of direct interest to the user.
  • In 2007, nine UK research funders, including JISC, launched UK PubMed Central, which has become Europe PubMed Central on 01 Nov 2012. PubMed is a permanent online archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences. PubMed Central allows scientists to access a vast collection of biomedical research and to submit their own published results for inclusion.
  • In November 2008 JISC worked with the Wellcome Trust and the National Library of Medicine in the USA on an Open Access project to make the complete back files from a number of historically significant medical journals freely available through PubMed Central and via Google. Under its Open Access model, participating publishers also deposit current issues of their journals, after a short embargo period, into the archive for permanent, free access.
  • The Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS), run by the British Library and set up to build on the findings from JISC programmes, has opened up postgraduate research by offering a single point of access to the entire range of UK theses for the first time.
  • JISC is developing the Open Access Repository Junction to help address the problems of repository deposit and interoperability currently faced by researchers who have written a multi-authored journal article from perhaps multiple institutions and grant-funding organisations.
  • The JISC IncReASe project investigated ways in which data can be shared more easily between repositories.

Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG)

The UK Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG) adds value to the work of the member organisations to increase the rate at which the outputs from UK research are available on Open Access terms, especially at a time of restraint in public finances. The OAIG has produced 2012 Strategy which outlines the aspirations for open access in the UK and how OAIG will help to meet them in 2012.

OER Initiatives in United Kingdom

National OER initiatives

JISC/HEA OER Programme

The UK Government funded a massive OER programme between 2009 and 2012, run by JISC - Joint Information Systems Committee and HEA - Higher Education Academy, in three phases:

  • UKOER1 was funded between April 2009 and April 2010, and supported pilot projects and activities around the open release of learning resources. A total number of 29 projects were funded through phase 1 programme in three strands: Institutional, Individual and Subject.
  • UKOER2 was running between August 2010 and August 2011. Phase 2 programme built on and expanded the work of the Phase 1, and commenced research and technical work examining the discovery and use of OER by academics. A total number of 36 projects were funded through phase 2 programme in three areas: the release, use, and discovery of OER.
  • UKOER3: Building on two previous phases, phase 3 programme is released between October 2011 and October 2012 to support the continued application of OER and related activity and processes across the HE and FE sector and related areas. A total number of 13 projects were funded through phase 3 programme, investigating the use of OER approaches to work towards particular strategic, policy and societal goals.

In addition to the OER Programme, with an investment totalling about £5.4m, JISC funded a Content Programme between 2011 and 2013. This programme builds on previous JISC Digitisation and Content Programmes which addressed issues related to the creation and delivery of digital content in parallel with the skills and strategies needed within institutions to support digitisation activity. The Content Programme has funded 9 projects focusing on the digitisation and open educational resources (OERs). These projects will run until July 2013, and will digitise and openly release of archival and special collections of primary sources, and embed such resources within teaching and learning as a way of enhancing the student experience and fostering innovative pedagogies. A key output from the JISC/HEA OER and JISC Content Programmes is the creation and releasing of a substantial amount of OERs to support a particular subject. Funding supported projects to release resources by departments, faculties and schools within a variety of institutions, supported by Academy Subject Centres and Professional Bodies. A list of OERs created and released for a wide range of subjects through the JISC/HEA programmes is provided as follows:

OERs in arts, design and media:

  • ADM-OER (Open Educational Resources in Art, Design and Media)project was led by the Art, Design & Media Subject Centre and undertaken in association with the University of the Arts London (UAL), the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), and the Faculty for the Arts, Cumbria University (UoC). A wide range of OREs in arts, design and media were released from ADM-OER, and deposited in JorumOpen and the repositories of the three participating institutions: UAL Research Online , UCA Research Online , and UoC’s Open Cumbria.
  • Practising Open Education: Developing the Potential of Open Educational Resources in Art, Design and Media project built upon the findings and experiences of the ADM-OER project. The project embedded effective OER practices and policies within six participating institutions, and released a significant number of art, design and media OERs in JorumOpen.
  • openUCF was led by the University College Falmouth (UCF) and released 40 credits of materials in professional writing at masters’ level as OERs together with supporting materials. All the resources can be accessed from JorumOpen and UCF’s OER repository- openSpace.
  • ALTO (Arts Learning and Teaching Online) project was led by the University of Arts London (UAL). OERs were created for a wide range of subjects in arts and deposited in the institution’s Learning Resource Repository - ALTO Filestore), Process.Arts , YouTube, and JorumOpen.
  • CCC-EED (Context, Culture and Creativity: Enriching E-Learning in Dance) project is led by the School of Arts, University of Surrey. The project will run until January 2013 and digitise approximately 3,500 diverse items from the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD) at the University of Surrey, convert them into OERs, use them to create online learning packages, trial these with student users and evaluate their impact in the context of historical, cultural and practical knowledge in dance education.
  • Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection is led by the University for the Creative Arts, in collaboration with Zandra Rhodes which is amongst the most famous and recognisable names in British fashion over the last fifty years. The project will run until January 2013 and provide open online access to images of 500 of the designer’s most iconic and landmark costumes. From this substantial collection of intriguing and innovative fashion designs 25 key works will be chosen to build as OERs with the aim of embedding them in teaching and learning. The digital collection will be hosted by VADS (the Visual Arts Data Service) which is a UK organisation that provides digital images and other visual arts resources free and copyright cleared for use in UK higher education and further education. The service has provided support to the academic community for 11 years, and has built up a portfolio of visual art collections comprising over 100,000 images. VADS is based at the the University for the Creative Arts. The OERs created from this project will also be deposited in JorumOpen.
  • COMC (Coventry Open Media Classes) was led by the Department of Media, Coventry University and developed three open media classes: Photography (PICBOD), Media Activism for media creators and changemakers, and Digital Formation , exploring themes of globalisation and internationalisation in digital media and cultural platforms.
  • SPACE (Simulated Performing Arts Creative Environment) project was led by Doncaster College. The project developed a 3D learning environment to support the teaching of performing arts subjects, and a set of processes to support the design, build and testing of this 3D learning environment.
  • OERs in Multimedia & ICT tools was led by the University of Westminster and produced multimedia training videos as a series of OERs for students learning a variety of multimedia and ICT tools.

OERs in biosciences:

  • An Interactive Laboratory and Fieldwork Manual for the Biosciences project was led by the Subject Centre for Bioscience and undertaken in collaboration with 10 UK universities. The project produced OERs for supporting undergraduate teaching, specifically the key areas of practical work and fieldwork in the biosciences. The project developed and released OERs in five subjects: biodiversity suite, cancer biology, field ecology, genetic analysis, and iCases, and deposited them in the Subject Centre’s OER repository.
  • OeRBITAL(Open Educational Resources for Biologists Involved in Teaching And Learning) project was led by the Subject Centre for Bioscience. The project worked with a number of discipline consultants to explore OER repositories to bring the most suitable resources to the attention of the discipline community. OeRBITAL produced a collection of approximately 300 OERs and uploaded them into JorumOpen . The project wiki also provides additional Bioscience-focused repositories and resources suggested from the discipline consultants. As part of OeRBITAL, the Virtual Analytical Laboratory (VAL) was released, containing OERs designed by staff in the School of Allied Health Sciences at De Montfort University. The resources have been used to help bioscience students to build their confidence in the laboratory and gain essential skills, from pipetting, microscopy and basic microbiological techniques.
  • HALS OER(Health and Life Science Open Educational Resources) project was led by De Montfort University and created OERs in health and life sciences. These resources were released via the biology courses website.
  • SCOOTER(Sickle Cell Open: Online Topics and Educational Resources) project was led by De Montfort University and developed OERs supporting the teaching of the two medical subjects: sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.

OERs in business:

  • Opening Up a Future in Business project is led by Southampton Solent University and in collaboration with Aston University. The project will run until October 2012 and produce a Moodle course which opens up a set of Moodle books, each covering an aspect of connected series of information and perspectives of working in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The Moodle books are downloadable both as a total package and in its separate parts to ensure full granularity. The project will also create a set of learning objects for use in the Moodle course, such as podcasts and vodcasts of employers, tutors, students and new graduates, and learning materials and exercises.

OERs in computing science:

  • Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science was led by the Information and Computer Sciences Subject Centre and undertaken with five UK universities: London Metropolitan, Teesside, West of England, Sheffield Hallam, and Portsmouth. The project released OERs in a range of areas, including computer science concepts, database concepts, distributed web systems, introduction to artificial intelligence, introduction to object oriented programming in Java, object oriented software development, rapid application development, real-time embedded systems, structured systems analysis, web analysis and design, and web design and objects. All learning resources (210 credits in total) have been deposited into JorumOpen.
  • Open Source Electronics Learning Tools was led by the University of York and released a software learning tool, "Java Bread-Board" (JBB) as an open-source software platform.

OERs for CPD (Continuous Professional Development):

As part of the JISC/HEA OER Programme, projects were funded to release educational resources which support accredited professional development programmes or schemes of professional development that meet the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in HE (UK PSF) under a Creative Commons open license permitting global reuse and repurposing. Examples of these projects are:

  • O4B (Open For Business) was led by the Business, Management, Accountancy and Finance (BMAF) Subject Centre and made available a range of open re-purposable resources for professional development of staff in business education, which could be used in assessment to accrue 60 credits. These resources are deposited in JorumOpen, and the Oxford Brookes University’s RADAR open archive .
  • ASSAP (Adding Subject Specificity to Accredited Programmes), also known as ‘The Pool’ was led by the English Subject Centre and collected resources for English for creative writing lecturers, especially those following accredited courses in higher education institutions. The collection comprised a variety of types of materials such as video footage, activities and texts, and are organised in seven themes: subject & pedagogy, course design, assessment, small group teaching, large group teaching, inclusive teaching, and online teaching. Each resource is supported by guidance on how it might be used in either an individual or group learning context. All the resources are now stored on the Subject Centre's VLE - ‘Virtue’, the HumBox repository and JorumOpen.
  • EDOR (Educational Development Open Resources) was led by the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) Subject Centre and combined the expertise of the University of Plymouth and University of Plymouth Partner Colleges. The project identified and released teaching materials on a range of topics to the broader HE community. All resources have been critically evaluated through their prior-use in HEA-accredited courses for new and experienced academics, academic-related and support staff, as well as CETL programmes and Subject Centre workshops. EDOR OERs are available from the UPLACE Repository at the University of Plymouth.
  • DELILA (Developing Educators' Learning and Information Literacies for Accreditation) was led by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and the CILIP CSG-Information Literacy Group. The project released a set of OERs to support embedding digital and information literacy education into institutional teacher training courses accredited by the HEA including PGCerts and other CPD courses. DELILA resources are available from LSE Learning Resources Online, University of Birmingham’s ePapers Repository, and JorumOpen.
  • ACTOR (Accredited Clinical Teachers Open Resources) was led by the Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV) and involved a partnership between the University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, Hull York Medical School, Newcastle University, and Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. The project built on an existing community of practice (RAFTT) in order to increase the sharing, repurposing and utilisation of educational development resources for PG Certificate clinical education programmes. The project developed new PGCertClinEd programmes and uploaded a substantial amount (>30 credits) of learning resources to JorumOpen.
  • RLTPA (Reflecting on Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts) was led by Rose Bruford College and drew upon the learning and teaching resources developed for the delivery of the postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in higher education: theatre and performing arts at Rose Bruford College. The project developed eight units of sustainable OER and they are available at Rose Bruford VLE, RLTperformingarts.org , Open University LabSpace and JorumOpen. These resources are intended to support and enhance the professional practice of those involved in learning and teaching in the performing arts in higher education.
  • Continuation of Reflecting on Learning and Teaching in the Performing Arts was led by Rose Bruford College and further developed the RLTPA OER site with new OER, especially in the fields of television and video performance, music, and dance.
  • IPR4EE (IPR for Educational Environments) was led by University College Falmouth and developed an introductory 30-credit postgraduate module that introduces and builds awareness of aspects of intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright within course design and development. The module is structured around 3 x 10-credit units that may be embedded within existing academic staff development programmes or as part of a broader range of CPD: introduction to copyright, institutional contexts, and developing teaching materials. The resources are released to openSpace.
  • ORIC (Open Educational Resources for the Inclusive Curriculum) was led by the University of Bradford and in collaboration with the University of Salford. The project created 30 credits of OER resources from an existing PGCERT around inclusive curriculum design, education for sustainable development and digital literacy. The resources are released in three areas: curriculum planning, curriculum delivery, and digital literacy.
  • ORHEP (Open Resources for Higher Education Practice) was led by the University of Bradford. Building on the previous success of the university’s ORIC project, ORHEP developed OERs for postgraduate teaching assistants, created from Bradford’s current Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice (PGCHEP) course and the distance learning version of the PGCHEP.
  • CPD4HE (Open Resources on HE Teaching and Learning) was led by University College London and released resources covering topics such as, assessment and feedback, designing and planning teaching sessions, e-learning, values in HE and quality management and enhancement. Guidance materials accompanying the resources show how they map onto the UK Professional Standards Framework and capture the experiences of educational developers and HE teachers who have used them.
  • Sustainable texts and disciplinary conversations: writing and speaking about learning and teaching in HE was led by the University College London (UCL) and partnered with HEDERA - HE Development, Evaluation & Research . Building on work of CPD4HE, this project will develop an OER e-book on open education and academics’ narratives on teaching and learning.
  • Open STEM - Transforming Teaching in Mathematics and Biosciences was led by the University of Exeter and addressed the challenge of releasing discipline-specific open materials for HEA-accredited staff development courses. The resources created by Open STEM are available from Open University LabSpace.
  • Learning to Teach Inclusively was led by the University of Wolverhampton and delivered a 30-credit multimedia open access module called Learning to Teach Inclusively (LTI) aimed at teaching and support staff in HE. The module includes three units: inclusive curriculum design and assessment, inclusive pedagogy, and managing and researching the inclusive institution. The module is available at: http://www.wlv.ac.uk/Default.aspx?page=24685, and Open University LabSpace.
  • ELTI (Embedding Learning to Teach Inclusively) was led by the University of Wolverhampton. Building on the Learning to Teach Inclusively project, ELTI embedded the LTI module in the programmes of CPD and PG Cert in Academic Practice at Wolverhampton, and provided the HE sector with three transferrable models for the embedding of open materials for accredited courses.
  • Learning from WOeRK was led by the University of Plymouth and worked with four key employers: Fugro GeoConsulting, Princess Yachts International plc, South West Grid for Learning Trust, and Plymouth NHS Trust. The project released 360 credits of OERs to support accredited work-related Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities available under open licence and distributed through JorumOpen, and Uplace - The University of Plymouth’s repository. The released resources covered areas such as, work-based learning, leadership, management, coaching, mentorship and culture in the workplace.
  • Towards a sustainable institutional OER culture for Continuing Professional Development provision was led by the University of Plymouth and enabled the university to deepen and broaden the work from Learning from WOeRK project by increasing use, reuse and repurposing of OERs developed by the WOeRK project, tracking OER uptake, usage and re-purposing, further evaluation of learner and employer responses, developing strategies for tutor, assessment and accreditation support of CPD OER use, and developing additional OERs to emerging areas of CPD need.
  • ORBIT (Open Resource Bank for Interactive Teaching) was led by University of Cambridge and developed an open resource bank to promote interactive teaching for primary and secondary schools. Resources available from ORBIT resource bank is aimed at use in formal HE teaching (PGCE), training schools and by teacher mentors, as well as continuing professional development for in-service teachers.

OERs in economics:

  • TRUE (Teaching Resources for Undergraduate Economics) was led by the Economics Subject Centre and in collaboration with 15 universities in the UK. More than 400 teaching materials in fourteen specialist areas of Economics are created and available through the Economics Network site.

OERs in education:

  • OSIER (Open Sustainability in Education Resource) was led by the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, and working in partnership with London South Bank University; UK ITE ESD/GC Network; Bangor University; Institute of Education, University of London; University of Strathclyde; St Mary’s College, Queen’s University Belfast; and the Centre for Global Education in Northern Ireland. OSIER repository contains a large body of teaching and support resources to help with the sustainability and citizenship curricula.
  • Digital Futures in Teacher Education is led by Sheffield Hallam University, and in partnership with University of Sheffield, Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning, Sheffield Children’s Festival, Learning Connections, SmartAssess, UK Literacy Association, and primary and secondary schools in Sheffield area. The project will run until October 2012 and produce an open textbook incorporating two core elements: digital literacies in the context of professional development (equivalent to 60 hours of study, focussing on the opportunities and challenges of embedding digital literacies within teacher education), and digital literacies for creative learners (equivalent to 120 hours of study, providing a set of tools and resources for embedding OERs within the school sector).
  • Sesame is led by the University of Oxford. Sesame will run until October 2012 and produce a rich and sustainable source of OER aimed at adult learners and their tutors across a broad range of subject disciplines. OER will be produced in the form of a series of open online course sites, containing newly generated resources such as podcasts, course notes, and slides.

OERs in employability:

  • OCEP (Open Content Employability Project) was led by Coventry University and made a variety of existing learning resources focusing on employability available as OERs in CURVE – Coventry University's repository for open access research outputs and educational resources , and JorumOpen. These resources were drawn from across all areas of the university, particularly the Add+Vantage scheme which is part of the university’s undergraduate programmes and focuses on employability, preparation for employment, entrepreneurship, creativity, preparing for professional practice.
  • OER café (OER Cascade to FE) built on the experiences of Coventry’s OCEP project and engaged two prominent FE providers of HE: Lewisham College and Warwickshire College, in an exploration of the issues, possibilities and relevance of OER involvement by HE in FE providers in general. A number of college generated learning and teaching resources are made available openly available in JorumOpen.
  • EVOLUTION (Educational and Vocational Objects for Learning Using Technology In Open Networks) was led by the University of Central Lancashire. Over 50 OERs in employability were deposited into JorumOpen, e-evolve, and UCLan - the institutional repository for the University of Central Lancashire.

OERs in engineering:

  • Open Educational Resources Pilot was led by the Engineering Subject Centre, and in partnership with EngCETL, Loughborough University, Leicester College of Further Education, University of Hertfordshire, University of Portsmouth, Institute for Computer Based Learning at Heroit-Watt University, UK Engineering Council, and Engineering Professors Council.
  • delOREs (Delivering Open Educational Resources for Engineering Design) was led by the University of Bath, and in collaboration with Institute for Computer Based Learning at Heriot-Watt University. The project created a collection of OERs and other openly available resources relevant to engineering design. The resources were sourced from collections of OERs from around the world, including sources from MIT OpenCourseWare, UKOER projects, OCWC, OER Commons and Wikipedia. Delores resources are available from http://www.icbl.hw.ac.uk/delores/selections/.
  • EALCFO (Engineering a Low Carbon Future OER) was led by the Engineering Subject Centre and created a collection of OERs in use over a range of engineering and related subjects. These resources covered a range of crucial issues sustaining a low carbon economy, and included technical and non-technical teaching materials as well as guidance on incorporating low carbon practice into existing teaching courses in academia and industry.
  • CORE-Materials (Collaborative Open Resource Environment for Materials) was led by the UK Centre for Materials Education (UKCME) and collaborated with 20 institutions in the UK. The CORE-Materials repository contains a substantial amount of OERs in materials science and engineering.
  • CORE-SET is led by the University of Liverpool and collaborates with a consortium of 13 partners of higher education, private, public and 3rd sector organisations. The project will run until October 2012 and create sets of discipline-specific OERs for science, engineering and technology teachers, students, and trainers.
  • ORBEE (Open Resources for Built Environment Education) was led by the Centre for Education in the Built Environment (CEBE) and produced learning materials on core, specialised and future skills areas as OERs, comprising lecture notes, reading lists, videos and podcasts, and covering a range of built environment disciplines such as construction and engineering.
  • REaCTOR (Renewable, Environmental and Construction Technology Open Resources) is led by Doncaster College. The project will run until October 2012 and create and release a set of 3D OERs to support the teaching of environmental technologies used in the built environment, together with supporting materials such as YouTube movies, user manual and case study.
  • Architect US (Architecturally Useful Scholarly Resources) is led by the Centre for Enhancement of Learning & Teaching (CELT) at Birmingham City University and undertaken with partners including the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design; School of Architecture, Birmingham City University; University of the West of England; Birmingham & Five Counties Architectural Association Trust (RIBA West Midlands); Council of Heads of Built Environment Departments; Tekla Corporation. The project will run until January 2013 and develop OERs for teaching, learning and research in the built environment. The resources feature contemporary designs from diverse leading UK architectural practices and will be embedded into teaching practice at the Architecture and Construction and Property Schools at the partner institutions.

OERs in geography, earth and environmental sciences:

  • C-change in GEES (Open licensing of climate change and sustainability resources in the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences) was led by the Subject Centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) and collaborated with a consortium of 14 partner institutions in the UK. The collection of C-change OERs can be found from JorumOpen with the search term ‘GEESOER’.
  • OF (Open Fieldwork) was led by the Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Subject Centre (GEES) and established a collection of UK and international fieldwork OER for sharing and reuse through a map based interface that allows users to search fieldwork resources by location. The resources, available at the Open Fieldwork repository, brings together fieldwork education resources that are publicly available on the web to allow easy discovery, and to facilitate reuse in the GEES and wider HE community. Examples of resources include virtual field courses, information on field sites, support and assessment material, BS8848 risk assessments, field skills and other good practice for the running of fieldwork. These resources are also available from JorumOpen and fall under the category: HE – Physical Sciences.
  • UKVM (Open University United Kingdom Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences) is led by the Open University, and in collaboration with the National Museum Wales, Sedgwick Museum, Hunterian Museum, Mineralogical Society, Geological Society of London, British Geological Survey, and Earth Science Teachers Association. The project will run until 2013 and create a UK Virtual Microscope (UKVM) for earth sciences as an OER. The project will provide online teaching material and broaden access to exemplar, rare and unique specimens of British rocks that are currently held in museums, university teaching collections, and in the British Geological Survey collection.

OERs in history:

  • Open Learning Environment Early Modern Low Countries History project was led by the University College London and turned a comprehensive survey course in early modern low countries history into a multimedia and Web 2.0 enriched OER resources. The resources are available at JorumOpen.
  • Manufacturing pasts (industrial change in 20th Century Britain) is led by the University of Leicester and partnered with the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, along with English Heritage, the Higher Education Authority, Victorian Society and Twentieth Century Society. Manufacturing pasts will run until January 2013 and has digitised a variety of primary historical resources with a specific focus on Leicester’s industrial past. The project will provide lecturers and students with access to a unique selection of photographs, factory plans, company publications, insurance plans and maps. At present these resources can only be found at the Record Office of Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland and within the University of Leicester’s Joan Skinner Collection. This project releases OERs into four themes: the ecology of the industrial city or town, the organization of the factory, de-industrialisation, and conservation and urban regeneration.
  • Observing the 1980s is led by the University of Sussex, and partners with the Mass Observation Archive Trust and the British Library. The project is digitising collections of the lives and opinions of British people from all social classes and regions during the 1980s, and disseminating them as OERs. The project will run until January 2013 and resources will be made available at JorumOpen.

OERs in hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism:

  • 2012: Learning Legacies was led by the Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (HLST) Subject Centre and the Business, Management, Accountancy and Finance (BMAF) Subject Centre. The project provided a range of OERs which derived from all phases of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, from planning to post-games evaluation of impact which can enhance curricula and student engagement with learning. The collection of OERs includes: case studies and discussion starters, official documents, and research resources, and can be found at the Oxford Brooks University’s archive of research and teaching materials - RADAR.

OERs in humanities:

  • HumBox is a collaboration between four Humanities Subject Centres (Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, English Subject Centre, Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology, Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies), and at least 12 HE institutions across the UK. The project published a bank of quality humanities resources online for free download and sharing in the HumBox Repository.
  • DHOER (OER Digital Humanities) was led by the University College London and created OERs from a comprehensive range of introductory materials in digital humanities, and enriched these OERs with multimedia and Web 2.0 components. DHOER also benefitted many cognate disciplines, including the whole spectrum of the arts and humanities, cultural heritage, information studies, library studies, and computer science. Resources were deposited in HumBox, JorumOpen, and DHOER website .
  • Great Writers is led by the University of Oxford and will run until October 2012. Great Writers will create and assemble a substantial body of open content with a literary theme to be released through an online web portal: Writers Inspire. The material is intended to provide an engaging introduction to a typical humanities undergraduate education.
  • FAVOR (Finding a Voice through Open Resources) is led by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, and in partnership with Aston University, Newcastle University, School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London, and University of Southampton. The project will run until October 2012 and release a set of OERs for a range of languages taught in universities. FAVOR will also create a suite of OERs designed to assist prospective students in understanding the nature of language study at HE level.
  • OpenLIVES (Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigrés from Spain) is led by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, and in collaboration with Universities of Leeds, Portsmouth and Southampton. The project will run until January 2013 and digitise resources documenting the migration experiences of Spanish emigrés. The content will be developed as OERs for a range of teaching and learning contexts in humanities and social sciences on topics such as migration, life history, employability skills, research skills, language learning.
  • OBL4HE (Object Based Learning for Higher Education) is led by the University College London (UCL) and University of Reading, and working with the Collections Trust. The project will complete by January 2013 and create a range of OERs representing a range of disciplines for university teachers and students based around the use of museum collections and archival material. The collections drawn upon include rare zoological specimens from UCL’s Grant Museum and Reading’s Cole Museum, Ancient Egyptian artefacts, Greek Archaeology, social and rural history archives and collections from the Museum of English Rural Life and Old Masters from the Art Museum at UCL.

OERs in law:

  • brOME OERP (Bradford Open and Mobile Education Open Educational Resources) was led by Bradford University and created OERs in law. The resources are made available at the brOME open educational resources site.
  • Simshare (Open educational resources in simulation learning) was led by the Subject Centre for Legal Education, and working in partnership with the Universities of Warwick, Strathclyde, Glamorgan, and Higher Education Subject Centre for Business, Management, Accountancy and Finance. Simshare created a repository of simulation resources for legal education, available at: http://simshare.org.uk/.

OERs in maths, numeracy and statistics:

  • FETLAR (Finding electronic teaching learning and assessment resources) was led by the Maths, Stats and OER Subject Centre and collaborated with 12 institutions in the UK. The project created the FETLAR repository containing a collection of maths OERs.
  • NumBat (Numeracy Bank) was led by Anglia Ruskin University and developed materials on numeracy and statistics across a wide range of subject areas in FE and HE.
  • De – STRESS (Depository of Resources for Statistics in Social Sciences) was led by Nottingham Trent University, and working in collaboration with the Economics Network, Brunel University and University of Portsmouth. De-STRESS created OERs to promote statistical literacy in four disciplines: economics, geography, politics and sociology. These statistics resources can be found at: http://destress.pbworks.com/w/page/42308116/Welcome, and JISC UK OER Content .

OERs in medical sciences, public health and social care:

  • PHORUS (Public Health Open Resources in the University Sector): In PHORUS the Health Sciences and Practice Subject Centre worked with the Royal Society for Public Health, Bournemouth University and other institutions to promote the development of OERs in public health, and research into enablers and barriers to the release of these resources. PHORUS built a bank of teaching resources which are available free online at: http://phorus.hsaparchive.org.uk/accessing-resources.
  • TIGER (Transforming Interprofessional Groups through Educational Resources) was led by the University of Northampton and collaborated with De Montfort University and University of Leicester. TIGER developed and released a set of OERs to support the teaching of Interprofessional Education (IPE) in health and social care. These resources are accessible from TIGER repository.
  • OOER (Organising Open Educational Resources) was led by the Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV), and partnered with 18 institutions in the UK. OOER released a substantial number of OER in medical and healthcare education in JorumOpen.
  • PORSCHE (Pathways for Open Resource Sharing through Convergence in Healthcare Education) was led by the Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV), and working with NHS eLearning Repository, London Deanery, and MedBiquitous. PORSCHE delivered a substantial number of OER (180 credits) in medical and healthcare education. The primary aim of PORSCHE is to provide seamless access to academic and clinical learning resources to healthcare students by sharing appropriately licensed content between Jorum and the NeLR. To achieve this, PORSCHE has been exploring metadata transfer between the two repositories using OAI-PMH.
  • Histology and histopathology (virtual microscopy online) is led by the Open University and work with the Royal Society of Medicine, University College Hospital London, De Montfort University, and the Institute of Ophthalmology, London. The project will run until January 2013 and produce an online teaching package for histology and histopathology (the study of normal and diseased tissues under the microscope). The resource is primarily aimed at undergraduate science students and will be made available from Open University’s OpenLearn.
  • SWAPBox (SWAP OER) was led by the Social Policy and Social Work (SWAP) Subject Centre, and worked with Centre for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health, University of Birmingham; Centre for Human Service Technology, University of Southampton; Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services; Social Care Institute of Excellence; School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton; and University of Southampton Library. The social policy and social work teaching resources released from this project are available at SWAPBox repository.

OERs in politics:

  • TRITON was led by the University of Oxford and brought high-quality OERs closer to the politics and international relations subject community through new tools developed around a cross-institutional blog Politics in Spires . By discovering hundreds of open materials and linking these to new scholarly blog posts, the TRITON site presents a wealth of learning resources for the subject community and the wider public audience. The open materials cover subjects such as political theory, comparative government, international relations and european politics and Society, and include audio and video podcasts, blog posts, and other learning resources.

OERs in physical sciences:

  • Skills for Scientists was led by the Physical Sciences Centre and partnered with 20 institutions in the UK. The consortium offered a range of resources representing the physical sciences disciplines of chemistry, physics and astronomy, forensic science, and provided content which addresses all the skills areas developed throughout a science degree namely discipline specific skills, experimentation skills, maths skills, professional skills, and public engagement skills. These resources are available at http://skillsforscientists.pbworks.com/w/page/8380418/Resources.
  • Chemistry.FM was led by the University of Lincoln and created 30-credit resource for introductory chemistry for forensic science for the first year undergraduate level. The released OERs cover all the major areas of chemistry, including inorganic, organic and physical, available at http://forensicchemistry.lincoln.ac.uk/.

OERs in social sciences:

  • C-SAP (Opening up Resources for Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences) was led by the Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics and worked with Regent's College, Manchester Metropolitan University, Aston University, University College Plymouth St Mark and St John, Keele University and University of Ulster. C-SAP made available a set of OERs, covering a range of subjects in social sciences including anthropology, criminology and sociology.
  • Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources was led by the Subject Network for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics and embedded benefits and experiences from the C-SAP project to two institutions: University Centre, Blackburn College and Bangor University. The project focused on the relationship between the use of OERs and student engagement, and enabled the creation and deposit of new OERs into JorumOpen.
  • Discovering Collections of Social Science Open Educational Resources was led by the Subject Network for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics with the focus on the enhancement to core social science curricula in research methods using OER. The project explored how staff discovered, used, and potentially adapted online/digital materials in their research methods teaching.

Projects funded through the JISC/HEA OER Programme also enabled institutions to release a substantial set of OERs in a variety of different subjects across the entire institutions. Funding usually resulted in the creation of institutions’ repositories for OERs. Examples are:

  • Open Exeter enabled the creation of the University of Exeter’s Repository - Open Exeter which offers a range of OERs across a variety of subject areas mostly at undergraduate level.
  • Unicycle supported the development of Leeds Metropolitan University’s institutional repository which offers a substantial amount of OERs in subjects and areas including maths, business, finance, accounting, skills for learning, academic development of enterprise, and computer-assisted assessment.
  • OTTER (Open, Transferable and Technology-enabled Educational Resources) enabled the creation of the University of Leicester’s OER repository which offers a range of OERs produced and released from teaching materials delivered at Leicester University.
  • OSTRICH (OER Sustainability through Teaching & Research Innovation: Cascading across HEIs) transferred and embedded experiences and benefits of Leicester’s OTTER project to two other institutions: Universities of Bath and Derby. OSTRICH resulted in the creation of an Ostrich repository, containing OERs for a wide range of subjects developed by Bath and Derby.
  • BERLiN (Building exchanges for research & learning in Nottingham) enhanced and expanded Nottingham’s existing Open Educational Repository - u-Now , one of the first OER repositories in the UK and a member of the international Open Courseware Consortium by contributing a substantial amount of OERs in a wide range of subjects including mathematics, public health, politics and international relationships, economics, history, american and canadian studies, education (PGCE), sociology and social policy to u-Now.
  • OpenSpires made Oxford Podcasts available as OERs (http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/open). The podcasts cover a wide range of areas, including humanities, mathematics, physical & life sciences, medical sciences, social sciences, continuing education, museums, libraries and services.
  • Ripple: OER Cascade transferred the experiences from Oxford’s OpenSpires project and provided expert support and training to Harper Adams University College and Oxford Brookes University for the successful delivery of OER. Both institutions released sets of OERs into JorumOpen, the Brookes digital repository - RADAR, and Harper Adams’s institutional digital asset bank.
  • OpenStaffs enabled the deposit of OERs in different formats in the Staffordshire University’s learning repository and JorumOpen. The resources cover a wide range of subjects and areas, including computing, engineering and technology, sciences, arts, media and design, business, law, health, information services, and careers service.

Through the JISC/HEA OER Programme, funded projects also enabled institutional change and benefits embedding, through building on previous work, bringing about the evolution of institutional policy across whole organisations in the support of the use, development and cultural acceptance of OER as part of everyday educational practice. Examples are:

  • Embedding OERs Practice runs an internal Change Academy with the University of Lincoln to encourage a positive change towards OER within six departmental areas and establish an overall model of institutional change that can be adopted by HEIs. The project will help assist institutions to make significant changes to their OER policies at institutional or departmental levels.
  • Embedding OER into Student Education Institutionally was led by the University of Leeds. The project raised institutional awareness of the potential and usefulness of OER through a series of workshops for academics and teaching support staff from a diverse range of disciplines. The project worked with individual academics in a range of disciplines to locate, evaluate and embed appropriate OER in their teaching practice, produced a series of written and audio-visual case studies of practitioners’ experiences of using OER, and established an institutional OER steering group to develop an institutional strategy for the use of OER.
  • PARiS (Promoting Academic Resources in Society), building on the success of previous open learning initiatives at the University of Nottingham, PARiS will extend the reach of OER into new communities by working in partnership with the Ear foundation, a third sector organisation, on the collection and release of OER. PARiS will run until October 2012 and release 100 credits of Nottingham’s teaching resources into non-traditional areas and new communities.
  • PublishOER is led by the Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV). The project runs until October 2012 and investigates new business models for embedding published works in OER. It is a partnership of organisations including Elsevier, JISC Collections, Rightscom and education providers particularly the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

Opportunities to enhance the digital infrastructure to support open content in education were identified by JISC. 15 small projects were funded through the JISC/HEA OER Programme, Rapid Innovation Strand to provide technical solutions. An overview of the 15 projects is provided in the JISC website under Rapid Innovation, and a summary of these projects is provided as follows:

  • Attribute Images is led by the University of Nottingham, and will extend the Xpert Attribution service by creating a new tool that allows users to upload images, either from their computer or from the web and have a Creative Commons attribution statement embedded in the images. This will remove the reliance on images stored in Flickr, and put the power to attribute specific images into the hands of the user. The new tool will be made available as part of the Xpert site. In addition it will have an API allowing developers to make use of the service in other sites.
  • Bebop is led by the University of Lincoln and develops BuddyPress as an institutional academic profile management tool which collects and displays a person’s OERs.
  • Breaking Down Barriers: Building a GeoKnowledge Community with Open Educational Resources is led by the University of Manchester. The project opens up 50% (8 courses) of the Learning Zone through Creative Commons (CC) Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (BY-NC-SA) license, transfers the hosting of the ELOGeo repository to Jorum from Nottingham, and creates a GeoKnowledge Community site embedded in Jorum using the DSpace API and linking the repository to the Landmap Learning Zone.
  • CAMILOE (Collation and Moderation of Intriguing Learning Objects in Education) is led by the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). This project reclaims and updates 1800 quality assured evidence informed reviews of education research, guidance and practice that were produced and updated between 2003 and 2010 and which are now archived and difficult to access. Advances in OER technologies provide an opportunity to make this resource useful again for the academics who created it. These tools include enhanced meta-tagging schemas for journal documents, academic proofing tools, repositories for dissemination of OER resources, and open source software for journal moderation and para data concerning resource use.
  • Developing Linked Data Infrastructures for OERs is led by Liverpool John Moores University and develops an online tool using linked data approaches, which will enable easy integration of OERs with other types of online content. The tool will allow teachers to articulate their pedagogical approaches, as well as the content of their courses.
  • Improving Accessibility to Mathematical Teaching Resources is led by the University of Birmingham, in partnership with JISC TechDis. The project is making digital mathematical documents fully accessible for visually impaired students, a major challenge to offer equal educational opportunities.
  • Portfolio Commons is led by the University of the Arts London, and in partnership with Jorum Service, MIMAS, University of Manchester, and Richard Jones (Cottage Labs). The project will create a free open source plug-in for Mahara that will enable a user to select content from their Mahara Portfolio, licence it with a Creative Commons licence of their choosing, create metadata and make a deposit directly into their chosen repositories using the SWORD protocol to.
  • RIDLR (Rapid Innovation Dynamic Learning Maps-Learning Registry) is led by Newcastle University and develops open APIs to harvest and release paradata on OER from end-users (bookmarks, tags, comments, ratings and reviews) from the Learning Registry and other sources for specific topics, within the context of curriculum and personal maps.
  • RedFeather (Resource Exhibition and Discovery) is led by the University of Southampton. RedFeather is a proposed lightweight repository server-side script that fosters best practice for OER. It can be dropped into any website with PHP, and which enables appropriate metadata to be assigned to resources, creates views in multiple formats (including HTML with in-browser previews, RSS and JSON), and provides instant tools to submit to Xpert and Jorum, or migrate to full repository platforms via SWORD.
  • Sharing Paradata Across Widget Stores is led by the University of Bolton, in partnership with KMI, Open University, IMC AG, Saarbruecken, Katholieke Universiteit and Leuven, Belgium. The project will use the Learning Registry infrastructure to share paradata about Widgets across multiple Widget Stores, improving the information available to users for selecting widgets and improving discovery by pooling usage information across stores.
  • SPINDLE: Increasing OER discoverability by improved keyword metadata via automatic speech to text transcription is led by the University of Oxford and creates new tools and HTML5 demonstrators to assist content providers with OER keyword metadata creation, indexing and display. SPINDLE will create linguistic analysis tools to filter uncommon spoken words from the automatically generated word-level transcriptions that will be obtained using Large Vocabulary Continuous Speech Recognition (LVCSR) software.
  • SupOERGlue is led by Newcastle University and pilots the integration of OER Glue with Newcastle University’s Dynamic Learning Maps, enabling easy content creation and aggregation from within the learning and teaching support environments, related to specific topics.
  • Synote Mobile is led by the University of Southampton and creates a new mobile HTML5 version of Synote able to replay Synote recordings on any student’s mobile device capable of connecting to the Internet. The use of HTML5 will overcome the need to develop multiple device-specific applications.
  • Track OER: Tracking Open Educational Resources is led by the Open University and develops software that can help track OER. This provides an enabling function to see the impact of releasing content as distinct from serving content without the option to take and remix. The software will be generic in nature and build from existing work developed by BCCampus and MIT, however a key step in this project is to provide an instantiation of the tracking on the Open University’s OpenLearn platform.
  • XENITH (Xerte Experience Now Improved: Targeting HTML5) is led by the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with JISC TechDIS, EDINA and Mimas. Xerte Online Toolkits is a suite of tools in widespread use by teaching staff to create interactive learning materials. This project will develop the functionality for Xerte Online Toolkits to deliver content as HTML5.

JISC provided full support to all projects funded through its OER and Content Programmes:

  • Technical support is provided by JISC CETIS.
  • IPR support is provided by OER IPR project
  • Evaluation and Synthesis project provides findings from all three phases of UKOER are fully documented at the E&S wiki, managed by a team led from Glasgow Caledonian University.
  • OER Impact study was led by the University of Oxford and provides an investigation into the use of OER in UK Higher Education
  • OER Infokit was developed to provide access to the key outcomes and outputs from all OER projects funded through JISC/HEA OER Programme


SCORE (Support Centre for Open Resources in Education) was based at the Open University in the UK and funded by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) as a three year programme between 2009 and 2012. SCORE drew on the Open University's experience from a range of successful OER projects such as OpenLearn, and set out to:

  • Disseminate skills for populating and maintaining open content sites
  • Build evidence of the impact of OER in higher education
  • Support the establishment of a legal framework to address IP/rights management issues
  • Support the creation of common standards for the design of content and sites, facilitating exchange of materials across the sector
  • Deepen sector-wide understanding of the needs and behaviours of users of open content material, and disseminate national and international research findings
  • Facilitate engagement of UK OER activities within international developments, particularly the Open Courseware Consortium and the European MORIL Project

SCORE evaluation report [3] recorded that between 2009 and 2012 SCORE achieved the following:

31 Fellowship projects funded through SCORE informed and influenced policy and practice around OER creation, sharing and use. An overview of all Fellowship projects can be found at (http://www8.open.ac.uk/score/fellows). Key outputs from the Fellowship projects can be found at (http://www8.open.ac.uk/score/outputs). All Fellowship projects fell into a number of areas described as follows:

OER use and reuse

Four projects were funded to address specific aspects of OER use and reuse:

  • Investigating and evaluating effective and efficient ways of utilising OER in arts HEIs to support the learning and teaching.
  • Exploring OER-related accessibility issues and their relevance to practices of repurposing and reuse.
  • EVOL-OER: Developing re-use patterns adopted by academics in HEIs.
  • Promoting engagement with and re-use of OER in teaching and learning in HE.

Academic practice

Four projects were funded to explore the issues of using OER to support accredited professional or staff development programmes in HE:

  • Investigating the use of OER among early-career university lecturers
  • Exploring OER as a scholarly activity within staff development accredited courses
  • Integrating the use of open content into the delivery of PG Certificates in Learning
  • Developing the PGCLTHE (Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education) by repurposing OER

Mass use models for OER

  • SPIDER: Investigating iTunes U as a channel for OER delivery and dissemination
  • TOUCANS: Investigating the concept of OER university (OERu) and its implementation within UK universities

Student use of OER and assessment

  • OERs, e-assessment and learning: Examining how OER assessment tools are integrated with other learning and teaching resources
  • SCORE Higher: Exploring the use of OER to aid first year postgraduate researchers (PGR) in self-assessing their skills base at the start of candidature by creating 10 simple skills OER. These self-assessment OERs are available from Humbox repository, and JorumOpen.
  • Developing students as content scavengers: evaluating of OER multimedia content within the curriculum of an introductory anthropology class.

Copyright and policy licensing

  • Exploring policy and practice, and their implications for institutions; making guidance on communicating complex issues of copyright, policy and consent to the sector; and exploring relationships with publishers.

OERs for language learning

  • Focusing on community building and user engagement around the sharing of languages teaching resources through LORO
  • TOETOE (Technology for Open English – Toying with Open E-resources): Collecting tools and content from the open-source and open-access movements for the development of OER for training in the area of English for Academic Purposes (EAP)

OER for health education

Three projects were funded to look into issues related to reusing OER in Health and Life Sciences, including relationship development, community building, technical issues and repurposing and quality control:

  • A reflective account of OERs for Interprofessional Education in Health and Social Care: Evaluating the use and impact of the TIGER Interprofessional OER repository by health care professionals in the UK
  • Mapping cross-sector reuse of OER in Health Sciences: Developing a deeper understanding of OER reuse patterns, their extent and impact within health sciences
  • Developing and sharing OER in Health and Life Sciences: Developing an open module, including resources, delivery and assessment, and evaluating the impact of open practices and OER on staff and students

OER for science and statistics teaching

Four projects were funded to explore issues of using OER for teaching statistics in different contexts:

  • OER and statistical literacy in undergraduate social science teaching
  • Experimental science and the practical sandpit: Development and evaluation of an internet-based “sandpit” for creating virtual practical resources from basic modules, making virtual experiments open for instructors to tailor resources according to their own practical and students’ needs.
  • International version of Wavelet Toolbox Guided Learning Handbook (WTGLH): Producing WTGLH (designed to provide training in use of part of the Matlab mathematical software environment that specifically relates to wavelet signal processing) as an OER to a wider English-speaking international audience.
  • Teaching statistics in Psychology: Searching and evaluating existing OERs for teaching statistics to psychology students, and developing an evaluation and classification schemes for online resources.

OER for research skills development

  • Skills Portal Surrey: Creation and release OERs for research skills development at the University of Surrey.
  • Methods@Manchester: Creation and release OERs for research skills development at the University of Manchester.
  • Tutor reuse of OERs: Exploring issues in embedding research methods OER in academic practice at Doncaster College.

OER for vocational training and employer engagement

  • Review and endorsement of OER by graduate-recruiting employers: Developing a feasible model for employer engagement in OERs to reinforce existing communities of practice and encourage high-quality open content publication and re-use.
  • i-mpact - Interactive resource for Media Professionals and Academics Collaborating in Teaching: Investigating aspects of cultural resistance, adoption and change in the context of a shifting higher education landscape.
  • Sustainable relationships between universities and vocational OER users: The Open University in the South West is collaborating with regional voluntary sector network to develop vocational OERs for the voluntary sector. The project investigated issues in sharing curriculum development in which the user community, policy makers and academics all participate in improving, updating and creating new resources via OpenLearn.


JorumOpen is the national OER repository in UK offering access to free teaching and learning materials created by academics in UK Further and Higher Education institutions. This free online repository service forms a key part of the JISC information environment, and is intended to become part of the wider landscape of repositories being developed institutionally, locally, regionally or across subject areas. The service is aimed at teachers, lecturers, librarians, learning technologists and other support staff who wish to share and/or access learning and teaching resources created by staff in UK FE & HEIs.

BBC Creative Archive

The Creative Archive Licence Group (CALG) was set up in 2005 by the BBC, bfi (British Film Institute), Channel 4 and the Open University to make certain archive content available for the public to use under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence (CAL). The BBC Creative Archive pilot ended in 2006 and released more than 500 pieces of content under this scheme.

Regional OER initiatives

Leicester City Council

Leicester City Council is focusing on OER as part of their strategic approach to digital literacy work with the schools under one of their priority strands - Information Management, which aims to:

  • Support a city wide, robust approach to information management of school policy and practices which address the management, handling, storage and disposal of data legally, effectively and safety
  • Manage the move to cloud based services and storage
  • Plan and support for the management of User Owned Devices and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) across the school estate
  • Promote the creation and use of Open Education Resources

The city is supporting and funding projects for schools, with one criterion being that outputs must be released as OERs, as a approach to raise the profile and awareness of OERs within the schools, and to maximise the investment by making resources available to other schools within and outside of the city. The council has just begun a two-year partnership project with De Montfort University that will produce, implement and release a digital literacy evaluation tool and related support materials for school staff as OER.

Institutional OER initiatives

Open University

As its name suggests, the Open University has always valued open education. The university was given the mission to be “open as to people, places, methods and ideas” by its founding chancellor in his inaugural address in 1969 and to also “promote the educational well-being of the community generally” in its Royal Charter. The Open University has long experience in providing accessible educational resources - for instance through its free-to-air programmes on the BBC. Its main business model has been based on utilising economies of scale, made possible by not being restricted in the numbers it could teach by the physical space on campus. The Open University has been involved in extensive research and evaluation activities plus widespread staff acceptance and experience in the use of OER. Examples of these initiatives are:

  • OpenLearn: In 2006 with funding from the Hewlett Foundation, the Open University carried out a substantial open content pilot – the OpenLearn platform to test out the impact of making materials freely available on the internet. OpenLearn gives access to over 600 free online courses from the Open University. These courses cover a full range of subject areas from introductory to postgraduate level. All of this content is available for reuse by learners and teachers under an open license. A review of OpenLearn discovered that it enabled regional and enquiry staff to undertake new and successful forms of information, advice and guidance, outreach and widening participation. The platform played some role in the recruitment and choice of fee-paying courses and helped attract substantial international attention for the university. The OpenLearn initiative also “placed the university at the forefront of open education and web-based learning" through gaining several awards, positive media coverage, many institutional visits and approaches, book chapters and commissioned reports, refereed journal articles and conference papers, and active inclusion in related work instigated by major worldwide consortia.
  • LabSpace is an experimental space where people can edit and repurpose the materials from OpenLearn, collaborate with others and publish new versions of the learning materials to share with the world via LabSpace.
  • OLnet: Supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, OLnet is a partnership project between The Open University, UK and Carnegie Mellon University, USA. OLnet is an international research hub for aggregating, sharing, debating and improving OER. OLnet gathers evidence and methods about how we can research and understand ways to learn in a more open world, particularly linked to OER. OLnet fellowships were offered for researchers and practitioners who wished to contribute to the understanding of OER design and use worldwide. A list of the 24 Fellows who were supported by OLnet and an overview of their projects can be found at: http://www.olnet.org/content/about-olnet/olnet-fellows. In addition there were six OLnet-TESSA Fellows who are listed at: http://www.olnet.org/content/about-olnet/olnet-tessa-fellows.
  • Evidence Hub is developed within the context of OLnet and develops an evidence-base to identify the gaps in research and practice in OER.
  • Cloudworks is a repository of learning design resources and ideas. There are currently 104 cloudscapes related to OER (http://cloudworks.ac.uk/search/result?q=OER&x=17&y=11#)
  • ORIOLE investigates and understands the use and reuse of digital online resources in learning and teaching. ORIOL is linked to the OLnet project.
  • OPAL - The Open Educational Quality Initiative was a European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme supported project which ran through 2010 and 2011 to promote Open Educational Practices (OEP). Partners include UNESCO, the International Council for Open and Distance Education, the European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning, and a number of leading European universities. OPAL has done research exploring the notion of OEP, including defining the concept of OEP, investigating how OER are being created, repurposed and managed, identifying associated dimensions of OEP, and providing a set of guidelines to enable individuals to benchmark their existing OER activities, along with the development of a vision and implementation plan for future work on OER. The OEP Guidelines demonstrates how to adopt OEP and use OER to improve teaching and learning. It consists of the core guideline document and two background documents giving a brief summary of the underlying concepts. The guidelines are designed as a maturity model which allows people to position their own organization in relation to its adoption of open educational practices.
  • TESSA (Teacher Educational Resources for Teacher Education in Africa) is an international research and development initiative which brings together teachers and teacher educators from across sub-Saharan Africa. TESSA offers a range of OERs in four languages to support school-based teacher education and training. The major funding for TESSA has come from the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Scottish Government, David and Elaine Potter Foundation and Waterloo Foundation. The British Council provided early funding to develop and evaluate distance teacher education programmes at mass scale in Nigeria and Sudan. The Open University alumni have contributed towards study visits and research scholarships.
  • Bridge to Success (B2S) is funded through a Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) grant awarded to Anne Arundel Community College, the Open University in the UK, University of Maryland University College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). B2S developed two open courses: Learning to Learn and Succeed in Maths, for adult learners studying in American Colleges. The B2S content has been embedded in different courses and programmes offered by the partner colleges, and used for face-to-face, online or blended teaching.
  • HEAT (Health Education and Training) is a programme launched in early 2011 by the Open University with an ambition to reach and help train 250,000 frontline healthcare workers across sub-Saharan Africa by 2016. By working in close collaboration with African Governments, NGOs and funding institutions, HEAT will transform access to healthcare in the region. HEAT produced modules that form the theoretical training element of the HEAT programme. The thirteen modules cover a wide range of subjects including child and maternal health, hygiene, immunisation, and nutrition. These modules have been created as OERs and can be accessed by anyone in the world, at any time, free of charge.
  • OpenED: Business and Management Competencies in a Web 2.0 world: OpenED 2.0 is a free and open online course for business students and practitioners alike. The course consists of 10 distance learning modules, allowing participants to choose the individual modules they are interested in. Each module lasts between 2-3 weeks. This initiative has been funded with support from the European Commission.
  • Open Learning Design Studio MOOC: The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology is leading the first Open Learning Design Studio MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), focusing on curriculum design with OERs, held in Autumn 2012. This course will be valuable for anyone seeking to develop their professional skills and experience in curriculum design, learning design and use of OERs in education. In particular the course will appeal to new and established HE and FE lecturers, to those completing professional certificates in teaching, and to researchers and managers of teaching and learning innovation.
  • Open Translation MOOC: The Open University is delivering a MOOC on Open Translations tools and Practices starting in Autumn 2012.
  • LORO is a collection of resources to support language teaching and learning. Some of the materials in LORO have been specifically designed to support Open University Language courses and are deposited in LORO as OERs to be adapted and re-used freely in any context.
  • OER Research Hub: Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation the OER Research Hub will provide a focus for research, designed to give answers to the overall question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ and identify the particular influence of openness. The project will work in collaboration with projects across four education sectors (K12, college, higher education and informal), extending a network of research with shared methods and shared results. The project began in September 2012. By the end of this research (September 2014) the project will have evidence for what works and when, but also established methods and instruments for broader engagement in researching the impact of openness on learning.

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham has a well-established commitment to open access content, demonstrated through projects such as BERLiN, PARiS, Attribute Images, XENITH funded through the JISC/HEA OER Programme. In addition, Nottingham has been involved in other OER development, funded through other JISC programmes and other sources. Examples are:

  • U-Now is the University of Nottingham’s collection of OERs that have been openly licenced for anyone to use. The materials range from complete modules to smaller-scale learning objectives and highlight a range of teaching and learning activities from across all five faculties of the University. U-Now is one of the first OERs in the UK and a member of the international Open Courseware Consortium.
  • SHERPA is funded by JISC, Open Society Institute, RLUK (Research Libraries UK), CAPACITIES, SPARC Europe and Wellcome Trust. SHERPA develops open-access institutional repositories in universities to facilitate the rapid and efficient worldwide dissemination of research. SHERPA services and the SHERPA Partnership are both based at the Centre for Research Communications at the University of Nottingham.
  • OpenDOAR is funded by JISC and provides an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories - one of the SHERPA Services.
  • Xerte is developed by the University of Nottingham and provides a full suite of open source tools (Xerte Online Toolkits) for e-learning developers and content authors producing interactive learning materials.
  • Xpert is developed by the University of Nottingham and is a repository for sharing and re-using learning materials. Xerte Online Toolkits integrates with Xpert to make it simple to publish open content and have it surface in the Xpert repository for learners to use and other content developers to re-use, adapt and repurpose.

University of Cambridge

  • OER4Schools was led by the Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, and funded by the Centre for Commonwealth Education. OER4Schools developed a professional learning resource for teachers and student teachers, focussing on interactive teaching and learning with and without ICT. A key element of this resource is the use of unique video clips illustrating interactive practice (produced in Zambian and South African primary classroom contexts) as a stimulus for discussion. The resource created by OER4Schools is freely available for use under a Creative Commons license. It supports different modes of learning, including collaborative and individual use, as well as blended learning as part of a course. It is being embedded in various teacher education and professional development courses administered by teacher colleges and universities in Zambia and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

University of Edinburgh

  • OERtest was a two-year project, which ran between October 2010 and September 2012, funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of European Commission. OERtest aims to support the mainstreaming of OERs within Higher Education and to test the feasibility of assessing learning exclusively achieved through the use of OER. The University of Edinburgh is a partner institution of OERtest.
  • MOOCs: Edinburgh is launching six new courses for online students, which will offer a taste of higher education for free. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will be delivered via the Coursera partnership - a network of leading international universities which offer short undergraduate-level online courses free of charge.

University of Leicester

The University of Leicester has been active in engaging with the OER development, demonstrated through projects such as OTTER, OSTRICH and TIGER funded through the JISC/HEA OER Programme, and SPIDER, TOUCANS and EVOL-OER projects funded through SCORE. In addition, Leicester has been involved in other OER initiatives, funded through other JISC programmes. Examples include:

  • Virtual Genetics Education Centre (VGEC) provides access to evaluated OERs for teachers and students, health professionals and the general public. The project was funded by JISC, and resources were published by GENIE- Genetics Education Networking for Innovation & Excellence, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester. The resources cover all aspects of Genetics from DNA structure to ethical, social and legal issues, which can be used in a range of subjects such as Biological Sciences, Medicine including Dentistry, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health, Health and Life Sciences.

Leicester is making research outputs from JISC-funded projects available as OERs via the university’s OER repository. Examples are:

  • 7Cs is a JISC-funded learning design initiative developed as part of the OULDI (Open University Learning Design Initiative) project. The project developed a new learning design intervention – the 7Cs of design and delivery by capitalising on the benefits and outputs of OULDI and Carpe Diem - the learning design workshop developed at the University of Leicester. The 7Cs resources created as part of this project were realised as OERs and available from Leicester's OER repository.
  • SPEED: aims to disseminate and embed key outputs from the University of Leicester’s DUCKLING project, and the resources and activities created from the 7Cs to four other UK universities: Liverpool John Moores University, University of Northampton, London South Bank University and the University of Derby. SPEED will bring together selected existing resources relevant to this need, cascade good practices to the four partner institutions via a series of capacity-building activities, and support the partner institutions in embedding these resources and approaches within their own institutional processes through a series of take-up pilots. Resources created as part of SPEED will be released as OERs.
  • PEOPLE will create a set of open, usable learning design and technical resources to guide academics on how to design for collaborative learning using the VLE. The resources developed from this project will be used to build an open course which will be made available from the Blackboard Coursesites for free access. The open course can also be imported from the Coursesites to other VLEs such as Moodle.
  • PLACES: The Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester launched a new distance learning MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development in March 2012. As a central component for this programme, to enhance student experience, the department delivered to each remote learner an iPad plus a custom-built iPad app. PLACES aims to bring together existing JISC resources and evidence Leicester’s use of iPads and App to develop a picture of good practice in curriculum design and delivery for mobile learners who use tablet computers such as the iPad. The outputs and resources developed from the PLACES project will be released as OERs.

Glasgow Caledonian University

  • ORT4Adults is funded for 9 months from August 2012 by the IPTS - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. The aim of ORT4Adults is to provide an overview of open educational practices in Europe by identifying, describing and classifying a comprehensive number of OER initiatives in Europe in the area of lifelong learning and adult education. The project aims to identify bottlenecks and barriers to the innovative implementation OER in adult education and to discuss factors for the successful implementation, up-scaling and mainstreaming of innovative practices with OER.

Edinburgh Napier University

The OER work at Edinburgh Napier University is around the development of the institutional benchmark for the use of technology. The benchmark comprises a 3E Framework (Enhance-Extend-Empower) with illustrative and real examples, and related guidance about working with the framework. In addition to forming the institutional benchmark for technology-enhanced learning, the university also successfully used the 3E Framework to guide curriculum design as well as staff development initiatives.

The 3E Framework and associated guidance (the PDF version) are published under Creative Commons.

Since the publication of the 3E framework, a range of institutions in the UK and some institutions overseas have repurposed or adapted the framework in various ways. Examples include:

Reusable Learning Objects

The RLO-CETL was the Centre for Excellence for the design, development and use of learning objects. The partner institutions are London Metropolitan University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Nottingham. RLO-CETL gives access to a rich set of learning objects, tools and information developed by the partner institutions. This project was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and all resources, templates and documents made available from the project are free of charge for educational use.


mathcentre is set up to deliver mathematics support materials, free of charge to students, lecturers and everyone looking for post-16 maths help. mathcentre gives the opportunity to study important areas of pre-university mathematics. There are a variety of resources, including self-study guides, test yourself diagnostics and exercises, video tutorials, iPod and 3G mobile phone downloads, and case studies. mathcentre was developed by a group from the Universities of Loughborough, Leeds and Coventry, the Maths Stats and OR Network, and the Educational Broadcasting Services Trust in 2003. Important components of the site were developed through the sister project math tutor which was funded by the HEFCE and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. mathcentre was upgraded in 2010 with funding from JISC. As part of this upgrade, mathcentre resources are being deposited in the JorumOpen and FETLAR repository.

Institutions on iTunes U

In 2012 schools, universities, and colleges in 26 countries can create and distribute courses on iTunes U. In the UK, by October 2012, 38 universities and colleges and 9 schools have a presence on iTunes U. The number of educational insitutions joining iTunes U is increasing every day. A list of UK institutions on iTunes U by October 2012 is provided as follows:

  • UK universities and colleges on iTunes U:
  • Aberdeen College
  • Adam Smith Collge
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Ashridge Business School
  • Birmingham City University
  • University of Cambridge
  • City University London
  • Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
  • Coventry University
  • Cranfield University
  • Imperial College London
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • London Business School
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  • Newcastle University
  • North West Regional College
  • Norwich University College of the Arts
  • Open University
  • Point Black Music School
  • Preston College
  • Queen Margret University
  • Queen Mary, University of London
  • South Tyneside College
  • St George’s, University of London
  • London’s Global University (UCL)
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glamorgan
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of London
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Plymouth
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Warwick
  • University of Worcester
  • Worcester College of Technology
  • UK schools on iTunes U:
  • Bryanston School
  • Cedars School of Excellence
  • The de Ferrers Academy
  • Essa Academy
  • Hemphrey Perkins School
  • Ipswich School
  • John Hampden Grammar School
  • The Hereford Academy
  • Turnford School

The Open University was one of the first universities in the UK to have an iTunes U channel (http://www.open.edu/itunes/), and was the top one university in the UK that has the highest download rate. Downloads have exceeded over 44 million in January 2012. More statistical data about the Open University on iTunes U can be viewed from http://projects.kmi.open.ac.uk/itunesu/impact/.

The University of Oxford launched its podcast site on iTunes U (http://itunes.ox.ac.uk/) in October 2008, containing more than 4,000 audio and video podcasts. Downloads have now exceeded 20 million since the launch of its iTunes U channel.

Institutions on YouTube

Many educational institutions in UK have also started to use YouTubeEDU as a new channel for delivering educational content. A list of UK universities and colleges (36 in August 2012) that have YouTube channels is given here http://www.youtube.com/education_channels?level=higher_education. A list of primary and secondary schools (23 in August 2012) that have YouTube channels is given here http://www.youtube.com/education_channels?level=primary_secondary_education.

Institutional repositories

The majority of research-led institutions in the UK now have repositories to encourage open access to research outputs. The number of UK institutional repositories is high - currently over 150. The SHERPA site provides a list of UK HE institutional repositories currently available in February 2012.

OER Policies in the United Kingdom

National OER policies

Regional OER policies

Institutional OER policies


FutureLearn (https://www.futurelearn.com/) is the UK-based MOOC provider, which was launched in December 2012, under the leadership of the Open University, UK. It currently has 37 partners, which are primarily UK-based, but the University of Auckland, Fudan University, the University of Gronigen, Monash University, the University of Oslo, Shanghai Jiou Tong University SungKyunKwan University, Trinity College Dublin and Yonsei University are also partners. The British Library, the National Film and Television School,and the British Museum are also partners. FutureLearn’s slogan is to ‘inspire learning for life’. It offers a diverse range of courses. Key features include: globally connecting learners with experts, bite-size steps of learning, learning through storytelling. The MOOCs consist of a mix of text, video, audio and quizzes and are based on an xMOOC pedagogy. The following core principles are listed on the website: Open, listen to learners, tell stories, provoke conversation, create connections, keep it simple, learn from others, celebrate progress and embrace FutureLearners. It is now possible to get either a certificate of participation or a certificate of completion (for a fee).


Key themes from UK country report:

  • Diversity of educational contexts: the educational systems in four home countries vary in terms of types of schools, curriculum, administration and finance
  • Widespread implementation of ICT and use of e-learning in all sectors of education
  • Provision of internet and broadband is relatively high
  • No national policy on OER; At an institutional level, most institutions don’t have an OER strategy
  • Significant funding from the government: JISC/HEA funded a three-phase OER programme with 69 projects from 2009-2012
  • Funding mainly from government (top-down approach)
  • Individual fellowships through the SCORE programme and OLnet project
  • Institutionally supported initiatives, such as iTunes U, MOOCs, OERu, institutional OER repositories
  • Funding mainly on production/producers, little on end-users or impact on learning
  • Funding mainly goes to HE/FE, little school-based
  • Lots of activities on cascading and transferring of experience



[1] Collie, P. & Lewis, L. (2011). A guide to ICT in the UK education system. http://www.educationimpact.net/media/23170/bett-2011-a%20guide%20to%20ict%20in%20the%20uk%20education%20system.pdf.

[2] Davies G. (2012). General guidelines on copyright. In Davies G. (ed.) Information and Communications Technology for Language Teachers (ICT4LT), Slough, Thames Valley University. http://www.ict4lt.org/

[3] Dempster, J. (2012). Review of HEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives: Interim report to the OU National Role Advisory Board (SCORE evaluation). https://oersynth.pbworks.com/w/page/53367635/score-early-review.

[4] Downing, E. (2011). UK Broadband – Policy and Coverage. http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05970.pdf.

[5] Dutton, W.H. & Blank, G. (2011). Next generation users: the internet in Britain. Oxford Internet Survey 2011 Report. http://microsites.oii.ox.ac.uk/oxis/publications.

[6] ICT and e-learning in further education: management, learning and improvement. A report on the further education sector’s engagement with technology, produced by BECTA Research in November 2006. http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1683/1/becta_2006_fesurvey_report.pdf.

[7] ICT Provision & Use in 2010/11. Summary Analysis Report by BESA. http://www.nerp.org.uk/pdf/ICT2010_NERP.pdf.

[8] ICT Provision & Use in 2009/10. Summary Analysis Report by BESA. http://www.nerp.org.uk/pdf/ICT2009_NERP.pdf.

[9] Understanding of the UK education system. schoolswork.co.uk, 2007. http://www.schoolswork.co.uk/media/files/Undestanding_the_UK_education_system.pdf

[10] UK Copyright Service. http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law

Book chapters:

[11] Conole, G., Smith, J., and White, S. (2007). A critique of the impact of policy and funding. In G. Conole and M. Oliver (eds.) Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research: themes, methods and impact on practice. Abingdon: Routledge.


Re.Vica/VISCED: http://virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/United_Kingdom

Wikipedia: United Kingdom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom

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