Leading article: Open season

The Open University is booming. And it doesn't require a degree in economics to grasp why. The price of an OU course is less than half that of a degree from a conventional university. It is also said that young people nowadays are so relaxed about absorbing information digitally that an institution like the OU - once regarded as hopelessly old fashioned - is a perfect fit.

But this raises a tricky question: could the iUniversity be the future of higher education? Could all students someday stay at home, downloading their lectures, taking part in seminars through video conference, emailing their assignments?

If so, what would digitalisation mean for all those essential social aspects to the student existence? Alright, there's Second Life. But snogging the wrong people in freshers week, staying in bed till midday, watching endless episodes of Neighbours and getting legless in the student union bar will surely only ever be done properly in the real world.