Figure 1 Some conventional and distance institutions’ graduation rates for 1997 entry compared
The selection of distance institutions are just those where graduation rates are relatively easily accessible publicly (many institutions do not release this data). But nevertheless the data appears to fairly represent the overall picture internationally.
It can be seen that there appears to be a substantial graduation gap between conventional UK face-to-face universities and many distance universities - the so-called ‘distance education deficit’ (Simpson, 2013 op cit). In the case of the OU the closest comparison is probably with the part-time UK student graduation rate. Here the difference is between 39% and 22% for UK part-time students and OU students respectively. Even more marked is the difference between the University of London International Programmes institution-supported students and exclusively distance-supported students at 61.5% and 15.7% respectively - see the case study later.
A more detailed picture of OU graduation rates suggests that they have apparently been falling ever since it first started. Its graduation rate has dropped from 59% for its first entry in 1972 steadily down to 22% for 1997 entry (Simpson, 2014) - Figure 2.