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What are the benefits of distance learning?

29th April 2019

Earning a degree requires commitment, a financial investment and the ability to balance study with family or other responsibilities.

So taking time to learn about the benefits of distance learning in comparison to campus-based study allows you to choose which learning style fits your lifestyle and will help you to fulfil your aspirations.

Our comparison of the positive aspects of learning online versus attending classes in a bricks and mortar campus will help you make the right choice for you.

What is distance learning?                                         

Put simply, distance learning is studying for a higher education qualification remotely, rather than attending classes in person in a physical building.

Many universities now offer online versions of the same degrees which are taught in their campuses — this makes higher education more accessible to people with childcare commitments, those who need to earn while they learn and students based in different countries around the world.

Once you graduate, an online degree has the same academic and vocational value as its campus-based version and the only difference is that you’ve learned online on your PC, tablet or phone for most, or all, of the duration.

What are the benefits of distance learning?

There are many benefits of distance learning, but the biggest is probably flexibility — being able to fit study around family and a full-time or part time job is a huge bonus.

You’ll still have to submit coursework at agreed times, but it’s not necessary to sit exams for most courses. And although some courses include workshops that require campus attendance, in the main, instead of attending lectures or seminars according to a strict timetable, you’re part of a virtual learning environment that allows you to dip into coursework and revision resources when it’s most convenient for you.

And using an online learning management system like Anglia Ruskin’s Canvas doesn’t just help you stay on top of your academic workload — it also allows you to keep in close contact with supportive lecturers and classmates who might be based anywhere in the world.

So although you’re physically distant from tutors and fellow learners during your course, you’ll get to know them well through working together regularly and forge friendships and career connections in a worldwide network of contacts.

Qualifications are available online from certificate level to honours degrees and postgraduate courses to Masters. And you progress through each at your own pace, ending up with a qualification that positions you for a promotion or helps you switch to another employment sector.

Subjects range from MBAs and Digital Marketing BA Honours degrees to Professional Football Coaching qualifications, so there really is something for everyone.

And because you can work and take care of family while you learn, distance learning enhances your life, rather than disrupting it.

What is campus-based learning?

Campus-based learning is the way higher education courses are traditionally taught. In some ways, teaching techniques are similar to a school classroom environment, because you’re usually sitting in a lecture hall or attending a seminar led by a tutor where you interact with classmates while completing coursework.

The biggest difference between campus-based learning and distance learning is that the former requires attendance in person, while the latter can be completed remotely using tech like laptops and mobiles. Distance learning also allows you to study at the weekend an in the evening, whereas campus learning is structured to a Monday to Friday working week.

What are the pros and cons of campus-based learning?

Campus-based learning suits some students because it allows them to socialise with classmates after classes in cafes and meeting spots in and around campus and makes joining extra-curricular sport clubs and societies easier. For many students, this is their first experience of living independently away from home and learning valuable life skills.

You can also choose to live in accommodation alone or with fellow students on your campus or in the town or city where your university is based and you might support yourself financially with a part-time job.

However, the flipside of these advantages is that students with families who are already settled in homes elsewhere probably won’t want to move into university accommodation and, although there’s every chance they’ll want to mix and mingle with classmates, their commitments mean they might not have as much time to do so.

Furthermore, although you’re usually able to access some components of campus-based courses online, there’s still a commitment to physically being in class on certain days and at specific times — this type of inflexibility often means distance learning might be a much more viable option for students who already lead busy lives.


Both distance learning and campus-based learning have their advantages.

But for students who want to access higher education to fast-track their career progression and can’t quit their jobs or step back from family tasks for long periods, distance learning may be the best option.

When you’re in this situation, a distance learning degree fits much more flexibly around your life and being part of an online campus means that you’ll still feel connected and supported as you work towards your academic and vocational goals.

To learn more about the benefits of distance learning, take a look at our blog.