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Online degrees from the UK

Online education is on the rise. Online degrees may not be as prestigious as their brick and mortar counterparts, but they sure come in handy in this digital age. Often times, students are looking for online degrees to gain expertise in a skill or field that acts a supplement to their 'traditional' education at a brick and mortar college.

There are definite pros and cons with online degrees, but they are proving to be more and more popular. Younger people are looking for online education options as the demand for online degrees has risen 38%.

One of the world's largest independent providers of UK university distance learning is RDI (Resource Development International). They have partnerships with the Anglia Ruskin University, Bradford University School of Management, Birmingham City University, Royal Agricultural University and the University of Sunderland. The RDI has figures that illustrate how the average age of students has dropped from 30 to just 24 since 2011.

The RDI has everything from a degree top-up to an MBA or masters available for anyone willing to learn. Online learning has become especially attractive for students who are now faced with skyrocketing tuition fees that have gone to as much as £9,000.

Cost is a hot topic when it comes to higher education. The debt burden has kept ballooning and students are forced to consider online degrees to get advanced qualifications and learn new skills. At RDI, a three-year BA (Hons) Business degree, studied through Anglia Ruskin University, would cost a total £8,995 for a UK applicant. If the same applicant were to study full-time on campus for the three years, it would set you back £24,900. And this is without factoring in living costs!

So we can see that the online degree option can save a student nearly £16,000. Then there is the opportunity cost advantage that also comes into play as correspondence courses give you a better chance to work while you study.

There are cheaper options to consider as well. There is the Open University, where a full-time equivalent course will cost £5,000 annually. But there is more to online education than just cost. Family commitments, a convenient way to learn or a disability that could make campus life hard are some of the other reasons.

The main issue people have with online education is whether they are respected. In a general sense, distance learning is viewed as a poor substitute to a traditional brick and mortar degree. But there are plenty of reputed universities (University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, etc) that offer distance learning options and so attitudes are now changing. Nonetheless, one thing to note is that the course offerings are not as good as their US counterparts (Ivy League, Big Ten). US universities are increasingly offering programming courses (Javascript, Python) and mathematics (linear algebra, multivariable courses) that make them a very viable option.

But this not always the case. For example, Oxford University has a Mathematics and Statistics BA available to distance learners. Use the National Careers Service website to search for a course or to see what a provider is offering.

Furthermore, the British Council proposes to look for the award you will receive on completion and to ensure it is obtained from a recognized UK university or college of higher education. There is a comprehensive list of recognized bodies for awarding UK degrees on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website. Another thing to look for is the presence of the Quality Assurance Agency approval on an online course. This is an agency that safeguards the quality of higher education and publishes reports about provisions of distance learning.