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Distance Learning Alumni Survey 2023

13th March 2024

Distance learning has become increasingly popular. The advantages of flexible learning, not having to commute, and advanced blended learning techniques means the profile of the traditional university student is also changing. Now more than ever, lifelong learning via online degrees means that adults who are working full-time and raising a family, can juggle studying alongside these other life commitments.

But what motivates a distance learner to commit to this level of study whilst balancing their work and private lives? And how did they find the experience of studying online? This is exactly what we wanted to know and who better to ask than our distance learning alumni through our first Distance Learning Alumni Survey 2023. Read on to find out what our alumni thought.

95% were employed whilst studying
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Survey to distance learning alumni

In November 2023, we sent out a survey to our distance learning alumni to find out:

  • what motivated them to study an ARU distance learning degree
  • having completed their degree, whether it helped them achieve their goals
  • how it has affected their personal and professional development
  • what kind of experience did they have studying a distance learning degree
  • and, finally, would they recommend ARU distance learning

So, who replied?

We received 158 respondents; the vast majority (80%) graduated in the last three years. 95% were employed while studying with us and, whilst they were employed across a variety of sectors, a significant percentage were employed in the health and social care sector (32%) and education sector (23%). When we asked what job level our alumni were working at, we saw quite an even spread from entry-level to director-level, but highest percentage (at 29%) described themselves as ‘mid-level’ which was between ‘entry’ and ‘supervisor/junior manager’.


How did they rate the experience and support?

Whether a student is new to the distance learning experience or not, we always want to make sure they are getting and taking advantage of all the support  available to them, as well as getting the most positive experience possible. We asked them questions around these two areas, and this is what they told us:

  • 91% of respondents rated their tutor’s knowledge and support as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’
  • 82% of respondents rated the student support services as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’
  • 45% of respondents took advantage of the networking opportunities to connect to other students and of these 97% found this very or quite helpful.
  • 97% of respondents found studying via distance learning either ‘very or quite accessible’
  • 87% of respondents found it easy to find time to study or with some jugging of priorities and support from others

97% of respondents found studying via distance learning either ‘very or quite accessible’

What were the primary reasons for studying a distance learning degree?

We asked our alumni what motivated them to undertake their course in the first instance (they were allowed to pick more than one reason) and this is what they told us:

  • 50% said they wanted to increase their chances of gaining a promotion and salary increase
  • 47% wanted the knowledge and skills to gain more respect and responsibility at work
  • 25% said they always wanted to study that subject
  • 12% wanted to change their careers

And did we help them meet their goals?

With motives established, we wanted to know whether gaining a HE level qualification helped them achieve those goals. They told us:

  • 47% had changed or started to change their career since completing their course
  • 44% had received a promotion
  • 57% had received a salary increase
  • 64% had been trusted with more responsibility at work

Other positive outcomes include:

  • 92% felt ‘much more confident’ or more confident’ at work
  • 87% had gained more personal growth and confidence

So, would they recommend an ARU distance learning degree?

96% of the respondents said they would recommend studying with ARU distance learning and 92% said all the effort and expense was worth the outcome.

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92% felt much more or more confident at work

Survey takeaways

We have long known our student profile is largely made up of busy professionals that may have family commitments as well, and that’s why it is important that they are well supported by their tutor, student support and an easy-to-use online learning platform. It’s great to know for the vast majority of respondents this is their experience. It’s also positive to hear the fantastic outcomes in terms of tangible benefits (career change, promotion, salary increase) and intangible benefits (increased confidence at work and personally).

If you have read this and identify with any of the motives our alumni survey respondents have cited, you may find the following of use:

You can also ready more personal experiences from our student stories, and if you would like to speak to us about a particular course, you can always contact us and we will be happy to help.