If you’re wondering whether your distance learning course is recognised, the good news is that it most probably is – provided you’ve chosen carefully.
Students undertaking any educational course at diploma, degree or master’s levels need to be confident that the time and money they spend studying will pay off, in terms of better employment or academic prospects after graduation.
In some ways, distance learners might need even more reassurance than other students, because if say, they’re slightly older and have family, financial and employment commitments, the probable end rewards for the sacrifices they’ll have to make must be crystal clear from the start.
If you’re still unsure, read on for several ways to decide if the distance learning course your heart’s set on is genuinely as superb as it sounds – and whether it has the bona fide credentials to boost your career.
Rated distance learning courses
Not all distance learning courses are equal, but if yours is operated by a university that’s already rated for courses run on its physical campus or has a long and reputable record as an established online provider, you’ve probably made a wise choice.
However, in order to be doubly confident that you’re headed in the right direction, it’s best to seek recommendations from the people best placed to provide them – current or recent students.
No-one knows the pros and cons of studying with a particular university than its students, so you can usually find useful information on their lived experiences on your chosen university’s website.
For instance, ARU Distance Learning’s National Student Survey has an impressive 76 percent response rate and reveals valuable insights on everything from teaching standards and academic support to assessment and feedback provision.
Furthermore, universities also often provide student case study videos and blogs for you to browse, so combining this information with statistics from surveys lets you paint a reliable picture of the type of experience you can expect.
Traditional and modern universities providing distance learning courses
The emergence and rising popularity of distance learning is directly linked to the adoption by institutions and the public of the technologies used to deliver it – like the internet, personal computers, tablets and phones.
So you might be forgiven for assuming that modern universities are much more likely to have distance learning departments and to cater for students from around the world who prefer to study in this way.
But while this is true in part, there are actually many traditional universities at the helm of distance learning – including Ivy League universities in the US and long-established universities in the UK.
So if the cultural cachet of a qualification from a famous university in a certain town, city or country is important to you, there are many courses that fit the bill. And on the other hand, there are also many modern and vibrant universities which offer outstanding courses that are rated just as highly by students and employers as those available from their more traditional competitors.
Value of industry-accredited distance learning courses
If you’re about to start an industry-accredited distance learning course, this is a good indicator of quality – it means that the course has been assessed by one or more of the most authoritative industry bodies as being a suitable standard to provide progression to employment within that particular sector.
Some distance learning degrees are officially co-created by academics and representatives from renowned industry organisations or alternatively, are designed by industry experts who are either still working in your chosen profession or have migrated to academia but know exactly which skillsets current employers are looking for.
And since some distance learning courses are work-based, your current employer can benefit from allowing you the flexibility to fulfil your course requirements, because you can immediately apply your learning to making improvements in their business.
So industry-accredited distance learning courses serve several purposes – they allow your current employer to innovate immediately, possibly position you for a promotion or alternatively, strengthen or diversify your skillset so that you can seek opportunities elsewhere.
Academic value of distance learning courses
Although many distance learners start their courses with an eye on switching careers, others might see an online degree as a means of progressing to a higher level of study, either with the same university or a totally different institution. For instance, you might move from a bachelor’s level degree to a postgraduate diploma, from a diploma to a master’s or from a master’s to a doctorate.
And graduating from a legitimate distance learning course is no barrier to your academic plans, because your course will be positioned at the correct level of the qualifications framework to allow you to do so. For UK based institutions, you should check which level your course is on the qualifications and credit frameworks for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland in order to clarify that it allows you to progress to the next level.
employers and by a wide variety of academic institutions – so they’re just as likely to be catalysts for you changing careers, gaining a promotion or advancing your academic journey as brick and mortar courses.
Distance learning can also help career migration because, apart from the relevant learning and skillset a vocational course provides, switched on employers will likely be impressed that you’ve had the discipline and determination to earn a degree while possibly juggling family, work and financial commitments.
All the evidence suggests that distance learning degrees and the students who earn them should be recognised and respected for their intellectual and practical skills as well as their admirable attitudes.
So if you’re considering a distance learning course, the straightforward checks described above should help you commit to it with confidence.
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