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International Distance Education and African Students (IDEAS)


  • To examine how far international distance education (IDE) in South Africa offers equitable access to students in Africa through both supply side and demand side analysis
  • To access and improve the quality of IDE and see how it varies among students through the development of a learning analytics tool that can be utilized for IDE in South Africa.
  • To advance theoretical understandings of IDE through a post-colonial framework which recognizes South Africa as a vital site for global education and conceptualises south-north learning in learning analytics in the context of the different power relations, ontologies and forms of knowledge production.
  • To produce impactful findings that contribute towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 regarding equal access to quality education.


Professor Parvati Raghuram, The Open University (UK)
Professor Ashley Gunter, University of South Africa
Dr Bart Rienties, The Open University (UK)
Professor Clare Madge, University of Leicester (UK)
Dr Markus Roos Breines, The Open University (UK)
Dr Mwazvita Dalu, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, IDEAS
Professor Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa
Reuben Lembani, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, IDEAS


Economic and Social Research Council


The research methodology involves qualitative and quantitative collection of, for example, demographic and socio-economic data, reasons for study, labour market intentions, migration plans, and educational experience of student cohorts in the three countries (Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe). Students’ academic and social adjustment will be assessed.

The data collected will be compared with South African students and with that of students studying face-to-face where such data exists. The project will also build on the UK’s Open University's (OU's) Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) – an innovative programme that will be useful in the analyses and explanation of existing student performance.

More information

Visit the project's website


Professor Parvati Raghuram

Contact us

To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502