The programme is relatively resource rich in comparison with some open and distance courses. The Open University received approximately £3,900 (US$6,090) per student in fees and recurrent grants at the outset of the programme, of which about 75 per cent is directly allocated to the programme and 25 per cent is retained to cover university overheads. Students, as in all other PGCE programmes in the United Kingdom, receive a mandatory grant to cover the tuition fees. It is important to point out, however, that since part- time Open University students do not receive the maintenance grants paid to full-time PGCE students (approximately £4,000/US$6,246), the cost of an OU PGCE to the national exchequer is around 50 per cent of a conventional PGCE.
It is significant that two elements of the costs (a payment to schools of £1,000/ US$1,561 per student, and the cost of computer purchases) account for 45 per cent of the total cost generated by each student. These cost factors are unique to the United Kingdom and the OU PGCE. If these elements were removed, the cost per student would be £2,050 (US$3,201), and recurrent marginal costs would represent about £425 (US$663) per student. The original start-up grant of £2.25 million (US$3.5m) has not been recouped through student fees; subsequent revisions of the programme will have to be. This grant was conceived by the government, however, as providing the institutional infrastructure and capability to sustain such a programme over an extended time. It is also important to point out the value-added element not represented in these figures. For example, the mentor training materials provide not only significant in- service training within the PGCE Programme but also the basis of the Open University's master's level course in mentoring. The Learning to Teach Reading pack (from the primary course material) is widely bought and used by schools and local education authorities.
The part-time open and distance OU PGCE is now embedded in national provision. All course resources are available for purchase, and there has been a significant take-up in other pre-service programmes, and for use in in-service contexts. The recruitment profile continues to reflect the characteristics described above under level and purpose of programme.
More specifically, this study has highlighted two particular elements of this open learning teacher education course: (a) the development of the school as a site for learning supported by a curriculum of school activities; and (b) the use of interactive technologies to establish an on-line 'community of practice'. Individuals with important personal qualities and qualifications who would otherwise not have entered the profession are being trained.
As indicated above, the introduction of new national regulations for teacher education and the associated inspection criteria posed particular difficulties for the primary programme in England and Wales. Programmes like this work to different time scales than does conventional provision, and any system-wide