LONDON – Around half of students taking online courses say that either they would not, or were not sure whether they would, attend classroom-based education even if it was made readily available to them, according to the fifth annual survey by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research on the demographics of online-based degree students. This year’s study found that whilst online education was the only option for half of the students surveyed, ninety percent of students who had pursued classroom-based, on-campus courses in the past said that they preferred studying online or found the online study just as satisfying.
Growing Popularity of Online Degrees
Currently, the estimated number of students who are studying for their degrees online, whether undergraduate degrees or advanced courses such as a master of public health degree, is around 3.5 million, according to Learning House Chief Academic Officer, David Clinefelter. Due to the sheer enormity of these figures alone, it is vital for academic institutions to not ignore the growing need for online education. Most online students are most acquainted with a traditional college degree template, and are often less aware of alternative pathways to achieving their academic goals. According to the survey, only around one-third of participants were aware of competency-based education, and fewer than one in five of the students surveyed understood anything regarding alternative pathways such as micro-degrees, boot camps or massive open online degree courses.
According to the survey, students who are taking their degree courses online are getting younger. In 2014, the average age of students embarking on courses such as a graduate public health degree online was 36 and 37. This age has dropped to 29 and 33 over the past two years. Amongst the students surveyed, tuition cost was the number one factor driving online education selection. Almost nine out of ten students reported that they would easily choose an alternative school with the promise of a small scholarship even as low as $500. The survey also found that students are picking online courses and institutions much quicker, with many only considering two or three schools at the most and half accepting a place at the first one which responds to them. Almost 70% of students surveyed spent no more than four weeks choosing their school and course.
Why Study Online?
Studying online is becoming increasingly more popular, and looks set to only grow further in the coming years. According to the survey, around three out of four students picked a school which actually had a campus close to their home. Online study is becoming more popular due to the fact that not only is it often cheaper than on-campus study, it also has many more benefits when it comes to flexibility and choosing your own study schedule, allowing students to fit study around their current responsibilities and commitments.