The approach adopted to establish equivalency with conventional education is not simply a matter of academic interest, particularly where funding for an ODL institution is linked to such calculations. The different measures discussed in this unit yield very different numbers of FTE students, as illustrated in Exercises 8.1 – 8.4. Data for the Dublin Open School example is summarised in Table 8a below.
|Type of FTE Measure||Statistics used||Factor/Divisor||FTE Students|
|Provision of Courses||Subject Enrolments||27||639|
|Preparation for Examinations||Examination Subject Entries||8.67||1,726|
|Examination Performance||Examination Subject Passes||6||1,998|
|Systems Approach||Subject Enrolments & Examination Subject Passes||2.53||4,736|
|Total Student Numbers||Student Head Count||1||6,637|
In this example, the number of FTE students is lower than the figure arrived out by counting the individuals enrolled for the course (the Student Head Count measure). However, depending upon how full-time equivalency is defined, FTE student numbers can vary dramatically. For example, choosing the Systems Approach will yield more than seven times as many FTE students as a calculation based on the provision of courses (6,637 compared to 639).
This example underlines the importance of this issue for ODL institutions, which must choose the most appropriate approach for calculating FTE and make a strong case for it in any negotiations for government support.