The Department today
The 21st century has seen sweeping changes to adult education, and the Department has risen to meet many challenges.
Oxford Qualifications, professional development
The academic year 1992/3 was a milestone for the Department: it was the year we were first able to 'matriculate' students – in other words, to admit students to our own part-time Oxford degree programmes.
Our award programmes have been designed from the beginning to cater to the needs of part-time adult learners.
Today we offer more than 60 programmes at all levels – undergraduate certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas (equivalent to or taught at the same level as first, second or third year of study at University level), postgraduate certificates and diplomas, master's programmes and DPhils (also known as PhD's or research doctorates).
And we offer world-class education for continuing professional development, partnering with experts from wider University, research councils, industry, and government agencies.
The Department of today
The turn of this current century, like that of the previous one, has been a time of great innovation and expansion for the Department. Advances in technology, and a rise overall in the number of people wanting to pursue some form of higher education, are just two of the factors which have shaped us into today's Department for Continuing Education.
In and around Oxford...
..and across the globe
Online courses are the direct descendent of our original extension mission. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was the rail network which let us bring Oxford education to places outside the University; today it's the Internet.
Students from around the world participate in large numbers on our online short courses – currently we offer more than 120 short courses in the humanties and sciences – including modules in a range of science subjects as part of our professional development offerings.
Our provision of online learning was made possible by the creation of our Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL) team in 1996. Our first online course was offered in 1999 – some of the first fully online learning available in the UK. TALL has since created a wide portfolio of courses for the Department, as well as for other departments of the University and other institutions.
Change and challenge
Over the course of 140 years we've seen many changes – in society, politics and technology, to name just a few factors.
A serious challenge we faced at the dawn of the 21st century was the withdrawal of state funding for education – particularly as it affects students who already had a university qualification but wished to continue their studies. It is a tribute to the desire of the public to have access to the University that enrolment on our courses remained buoyant, despite the increases in fees that were been necessary, and that since that time our student numbers have increased dramatically.