Last updated: 12.07.12

Online training helps adult learners access HE

Distance learning online could provide students with the best of both worlds.Stephanie Thomson, who is taking an e-learning course from a German university, wrote in the Guardian that she wished to go back to higher education (HE) but was concerned about how she could fund this.Therefore, she engaged in online learning while keeping her day-job, enabling her to continue her academic pursuits without returning to "a life of Pot Noodles" and "penny-pinching as an undergraduate".The student explained that online training enables her to study a worthwhile course at times that are convenient to her and in the comfort of her own home.Ms Thomson pointed out she is not the only person in the UK who is a part of the digital learning revolution, highlighting data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency's Student Record, which revealed 10.9 per cent of all attendees of the UK's HE institutions from 2010 to 2011 were 'distance learners', or a total of 271,445 individuals.Furthermore, 22.4 per cent of those studying outside the UK during this timeframe were doing so at a distance.Ms Thomson predicted that this proportion could have risen since these figures were released, highlighting jumps in tuition fees and an overall decline in the number of university applications as reasons for this trend.An escalating proportion of professionals are taking part in online training to update their skills, she added."Education isn't just about doing a traditional bachelor's degree: it's a lifelong journey," the student wrote."Distance learning makes that journey more accessible and very rewarding," she stated.People with family and work commitments or financial concerns about the cost of returning to university could benefit through online learning, Ms Thomson suggested.It could enable them to broaden their job opportunities, as well as quench their "thirst for knowledge", she argued.