ABSTRACT Correspondence education, or learning by post, lasted over 100 years in the UK; it had its roots in the nineteenth century, peaking in the mid-1960s. It was also widespread, numbering hundreds of thousands of enrolments, significantly increasing access to higher education. Yet it has been marginalised in accounts of British higher education. This is partly because it was largely private and for-profit and so distinct from the public education system, while the state declined to play any significant role in its oversight. Consequently, little official data concerning correspondence education has ever been available. This paper constructs an account of the history of correspondence education in the UK in terms of its development as a form of academic and professional provision, and its regulatory framework. The paper also considers the reasons for the eventual demise of the correspondence education sector following changes in teaching methods, and the impact of digital technology.

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