University offers first degree via Internet

Students on a new course at the University of Southampton can attend lectures and tutorials without ever setting foot outside their homes. The BSc degree in Information Engineering will be the first in Britain to be conducted via computer on the Internet.

All the students have to do is sit at their computer terminal at home and download essay assignments and lectures. They will even be able to attend electronic tutorials in which all the group will log-in simultaneously and hold an on-line discussion.

Professor David Barron, of the Department of Electronics and Computer Science, believes his course offers a glimpse of college life in the future.

'As far as we know this is the first time it has been done in a British university but I am sure it will become much more common,' he said.

The course will include four days of face-to-face teaching but most of it will be conducted over the Internet. Professor Barron added: 'We will arrange convenient times when everyone can log-in and we can discuss the work as a group. And any student can communicate with their lecturers by E-mail with questions about the course.'

Eleven mature students who all work for IBM at Hursley, Hampshire, have already signed up for the course.

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