Higher Education through Open and Distance Learning

By Keith Harry | Go to book overview

Chapter 10-2

Western Europe

Hans-Peter Baumeister
This chapter presents an overview of distance education in Europe, followed by a discussion of new developments relating to student attitudes and the increasing use of new technologies in distance education and also in traditional universities. The once clear distinction between conventional studies and distance education is becoming progressively more blurred. Also discussed are the tensions between the centuries-old European university structure and distance education. The chapter ends with an analysis of the top-down European Union policy on distance education. What exactly comprises Europe in the context of this chapter? From a geographical, historical or cultural viewpoint, it is clear that Europe is more than just the fifteen member-states of the European Union. But there are good reasons for restricting this chapter principally to the European Union and its policies:
• the major institutions and consortia of contemporary distance education are in the European Union;
• one of the fundamental changes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 was the disappearance of the former well-established system of distance education, which had a specifie function within the socialist system and was rapidly replaced by the re-establishment of traditional university systems;
• because of its political and economic power, the European Union also sets the agenda for the development of distance education in European countries outside the Union, for example, through programmes such as PHARE or TEMPUS, which include substantial training activities for future distance education experts in Central and Eastern Europe. And in countries with which negotiations for full membership (Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia) start in 1998, the main lines of European Union policy are already being followed.

Other countries like Norway and Switzerland are associated with programmes of the European Union promoting distance education. Only the

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