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University of Mexico sees increase in online learning enrolment

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The University of New Mexico (UNM) has reported a dramatic increase in student enrolment in online courses over the past year.

It has seen almost a 50 per cent rise in applications for online modules, with the total number of credit hours taken on now reaching 30,728.

By the end of the academic year in May, UNM has estimated students will have taken 78,000 online credit hours.

According to the university's leaders, the figures reveal that the UNM is becoming more accessible to distance learners and the number of enrolments could increase to 134,784 by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Jeronimo Dominguez, vice-provost for UNM’s Extended University, said online learning adds a better dimension for students to plan their academic life.

"It allows them the kind of convenience and flexibility…to still take the courses that in the past have not been available to them," he added.

Research from the Babson Survey Research Group has found that the number of students to join e-learning courses has soared.

In its most recent report of online education in the US, it noted a ten per cent growth rate for online enrolments, exceeding the two per cent growth in overall higher education.

It further revealed that on average, 31 per cent of students in the US were enrolled on at least one online course.
However, the amount of UNM students enrolled in online education is below the national average, with only 23 per cent of pupils registered for at least one online programme.

Debby Knotts, extended learning director for UNM, stated that online courses have improved accessibility to core curriculum courses, which are in higher demand.

These classes have the tendency to fill their capacity quickly, she added, but by extending the course's reach online around 100 more students are able to sign up.

According to Mr Dominguez, more faculties across the institution are recognising the benefits of online education, whereas five years ago certain members of staff were unsure as to whether e-learning offered the same quality of education as classroom teaching.

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