The anxieties associated with the cost of higher education are well documented. Tuition fees are given the ‘thumbs up’, often by politicians who have made their way in the world oblivious to the burden of student debt.
In my final year with the OU, as a mature student, the cost of academic aspiration wasn’t lost on me. I remember complaining to a colleague, that I’d be glad when it was all done and dusted, and how finances had been tight for the best part of six years. She fixed me with a benign stare and asked, “But what price ignorance, Martin?” I couldn’t come back with a smart answer, I was reading aesthetics. And, besides, she was absolutely right.
I grew up in a household where the ‘U’ word was never spoken. It never left our lips because it was a destination too exotic to contemplate, and besides, many parents didn’t push too hard in those days, unless it involved following a boldly signposted apprenticeship.
Levering kids into a new educational orbit, can still be risky for those who fear some sort of compromise to their social heritage. I know a father who worked in physically demanding conditions to ensure a good education for his kids. Countless hours of overtime saw them through university and out the other side. But when the son took off, a qualified engineer, married to a bio-chemist and making his way in the world he’d been steered toward, the father accused him of getting ideas above his station. Hmm...
So, at the risk of getting above myself, I've started thinking about a return to study. I don’t want anything that's going to make unreasonable demands on my time or my bank account, so imagine my delight when I read about Coursera, mentioned in the Guardian a few days ago. Their blurb states, “We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.”
Interested? I though you might be.
p.s. After running Poetry24 for around 21 months, Clare and I have agreed that we've taken the project as far as we can. We're still taking submissions until December 14th, and we are also keen to hear from parties expressing an interest in taking over the editorial responsibilities. Click here for more information.