Study for a degree at your own pace

Online distance learning can be a convenient option for those who want to work towards a degree but also want to start earning by getting a full-time job.

Students are totally free to organise how and when they study making it the most flexible higher education option.

More than 270,000 undergraduate students are currently taking their first degrees via distance learning.

Materials are sent directly to the student or accessed via the internet and tutorial support is provided via electronic means such as Skype and email.

This way of learning enables you to fit a full degree around your personal and work life. 

While it also doesn’t matter where you live because you can gain a degree from anywhere in the world.

You can also study undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level courses all via distance learning.

One advantage is that a distance learning course often costs less than a full-time face-to-face degree course with students usually offered a ‘pay as your learn’ option rather than paying the full course fees at the start.

The majority of UK undergraduate students study with the Open University with courses covering a range of subjects from arts to science and everything in between.

Students can use these to build a range of qualifications that include certificates of higher education, diplomas of higher education, foundation degrees or honours degrees.

Tutors mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing.

But many universities up and down the country now offer distance learning programmes too.

They all work hard to ensure they are of the same high quality as campus-based programmes.

Staffordshire University, for example, says online distance learning students will be expected to spend two evenings per week and a weekend afternoon studying.

Officials say they have the same status as any student on campus but there’s no need to come on to campus.

Also, they will be given deadlines like other students on campus but are able to manage their time leading up to assessments to work around what suits them best. 

Those enrolled can access lectures, recordings and course material online whenever it suits them and they can study wherever they are.

Then, once they’ve finished, they can celebrate their graduation with everyone else.

At most universities, online distance learning courses still follow the standard semester calendar with, usually, a start date in September.

Applications need to be submitted directly to the university or college, rather than going through UCAS.

The downside to this style of learning is that some people can find it lonely and isolating because you are not meeting your fellow course mates regularly.

However, the programmes often include day schools or residential weekends where you work with other students on a specific project.

These can be followed by continued contact with the team as you work together, and result in another residential where results are presented and assessed.


ALL ABOUT THE OPEN UNIVERSITY


Founded in 1969, it is the largest academic institution in the UK with 173,889 students.

76 per cent of students work full or part-time during their studies.

30 per cent of new Open University undergraduates are under the age of 25.

86 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff on Open University courses.

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