CFOS Overview

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Costs & Finances for Open Schools


These self-instructional resources have their origins in a workshop on the Costs and Financing of Open & Distance Learning which took place from 6-10 August 2007 in Gabarone, Botswana. The workshop was organised by the Commonwealth of Learning with the overall aim of building capacity to plan, negotiate and manage appropriate financial arrangements for the development and maintenance of ODL in member states. Twenty-five participants from eight countries attended the workshop.

Workshop Participants

The workshop was facilitated by Ed Du Vivier, an independent education and training consultant, with the assistance of two resource persons: Ms Frances Ferreira, Education Specialist: Basic Education and Open Schooling from COL Head Office, and Prof. Pankaj Khare, Director: International Division of the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Administrative and organisational support was provided by Mr Thulaganyo Thutoetsile and Ms Topoyame Dilys Mogotsi from the SADC Centre for Distance Education.

These resources were created by the facilitator for the following target groups:

  • chief executive officers, chief financial officers and senior managers in open schools, colleges or universities or in dual-mode institutions;
  • members of governing bodies or advisory committees for ODL institutions;
  • political office-holders, permanent secretaries and senior managers in ministries of education;
  • members of higher education authorities or funding bodies;
  • other professional and managerial staff in ODL institutions;
  • anyone who is interested in the development of open & distance learning.

The materials comprise a series of eleven units, each of which includes specific learning objectives, explanatory text, practical exercises, questions for discussion and recommendations for further reading. The units are as follows:

  1. Some Basic Concepts of Cost Analysis
  2. How Student Numbers Affect Costs
  3. Capital Costs
  4. Overheads
  5. Unit Costs: determining costs per student, per course or per programme
  6. Costing a New Course or Programme
  7. Budgeting: preparing estimates of income & expenditure
  8. Full-Time Equivalent Students: establishing a basis of comparison with conventional education
  9. Efficiency & Effectiveness of ODL
  10. Funding Open & Distance Learning
  11. Student Fees: determining fee levels & devising a fee structure
  12. Glossary

While these units develop in a natural progression, it is not necessary to work your way through all units from start to finish. Instead, please feel free to dip into the units here: Cost and Finances for Open Schools - Draft Materials (under construction)