Open Universities and the Social Agenda of Distance Education

Adnan Qayyum
Pennsylvania State University, United States of America

Mark Bullen
University of British Columbia, Canada


Modern distance education emerged in the 1960s in response to demands for greater and more equitable access to postsecondary education (Haughey, Evans & Murphy, 2008; Holmberg, 2003; Keegan, 1996; Peters, 2006). Beginning in 1969 in Great Britain, open universities were established around the world with a clear mandate to help eliminate the social and financial barriers to higher education that had effectively limited access to the middle and upper social classes (Peters, 2006). This situation was particularly acute in the developing world and the open universities that were established in countries such India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand have made a significant impact on postsecondary participation rates in those regions (Bates, 2005).

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