Cost and Financing in Open Schooling/Effiency and Effectiveness of ODL/Cost-Effectiveness of ODL Institutions

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Tutorial.png Unit 9 

Introduction | What is the Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness | Efficiency | Cost-Effectiveness | Cost-Effectiveness of ODL Institutions | Making the Case for ODL

Cost-Effectiveness of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institutions

In general, it is rare to find a case where the efficiency ratio is not more favourable (less than 1.00) for ODL programmes than for conventional education (Hülsmann, 2004, page 25). In some instances, the cost-effectiveness ratio is also more favourable, but there is no guarantee that ODL will be more cost-effective than conventional provision. Consider the figures presented in Table 9a below, which summarises data from a number of studies that compared the costs of ODL versus conventional education institutions for three different types of programmes: secondary education, teacher training and higher education.

TABLE 9a – Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness Ratios for ODL Institutions

Institution Efficiency Ratio Cost-Effectiveness Ratio Source & Date
Malawi correspondence College (MCC) vs. Wolf & Futagami, 1982
Day Schools 0.62 1.60
Boarding Schools 0.23 0.73
Primary Teacher Orientation Course at AIOU (Pakistan) vs. Perraton, 2000
PTOC in Conventional University n/a 0.45-0.70
UK Open University vs. Wagner 1977
Conventional University 0.26 0.38 - 0.45
STOU (Thailand) vs. Lockheed et al., 1991
Conventional University n/a 0.14

Source: Excerpted from Hülsmann, 2004, Table 10, page 25. Italic text

For all of the cases listed in the table, delivering educational programmes through the ODL mode was more efficient than through traditional methods. In the case of the Malawi Correspondence College, the average cost for educating an ODL student was only 23% of the expenditure for a student in a local boarding school. In most cases as well, ODL proved to be more cost-effective. For example, the average cost per graduate for STOU was only 14% of that for conventional universities in Thailand. However, this is not always the case. The 1982 study of the MCC showed that it cost 60% more to produce a high school ‘graduate’ through ODL than through a conventional secondary school.

The importance of making an accurate calculation of the cost-effectiveness ratio for ODL institutions is illustrated by a case study of the Alternative Secondary Education Programme (ASEP) provided by the Namibian College of Open Learning.

Case Study