In the leafy London suburbs just 20 minutes from the beleaguered city, Kingston University is throwing its doors open to the human fallout of the financial crisis. In an unprecedented move, the Faculty of Computing, Information Systems and Mathematics is making spare seats on its teaching modules available to those who need them, for a fraction of the cost of commercial courses.
The recently redundant could sit alongside the students and soak up some useful knowledge while waiting for the next job to come along, Professor Tim Ellis, Dean of the Faculty, explained. "This is the first time to our knowledge that a UK university has opened its undergraduate, as well as postgraduate modules, to the general public," he said. "We have only promoted this on the website so far but, within a few days, have already received more than 50 inquiries. We expect advanced project management, e-commerce technologies and basic statistics to be popular, but we have opened everything and will let the public decide."
The programme fitted into the University's commitment to opening up higher education to the whole community but this was not a shortcut to a degree, the Faculty's Director of Enterprise Dr Rob Mellor said. He was also keen to stress the benefits of university teaching over commercial short courses. "The first participant has already started and it's first come first served until the modules fill up," Dr Mellor added. "I really believe that our other students will also benefit from having seasoned professionals in their midst."
Undergraduate modules were usually half a day a week over a semester and postgraduate modules were held in week-long intensive blocks, Dr Mellor said.