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Online learning has its place, but the university model is far from 'broken'

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Jim Miley is director-general of the Irish Universities Association

Jim Miley is director-general of the Irish Universities Association

Jim Miley is director-general of the Irish Universities Association

It is ironic that at a time when leading academics from all our universities have been on hand to guide and support the national response to Covid-19, the sector comes under fire from online learning provider Mike Feerick (interview with Adrian Weckler, Irish Independent, May 21).

Mr Feerick, founder and CEO of Alison.com, has established a very successful business by offering free online courses on a wide range of subjects where users can purchase a certificate or diploma when completing a course. His views on university education appear to me to be influenced by the promotion of his own company, yet some of his sweeping statements require further scrutiny to test their veracity.

Mr Feerick's contention that "all knowledge is trending towards zero" in the internet age appears to be fundamentally flawed. The response to Covid-19 has demonstrated the true value of informed knowledge and expertise. University programmes are independently accredited, learning standards accounted for, graded and verified by the State.