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Short course abroad popularity up 500%

Demand for short courses is growing twice as fast as that for degree courses on study choice platform Studyportals, in a change that may signal a shift to an industry-wide trend towards more flexible and modular pathways for students.

Demand growth for short courses outpaced that for degrees. Image: Studyportals

A thirst for short courses is a reflection of a general trend towards ‘unbundling’ higher education degrees

Tracking demand across its three portals, Studyportals noticed that the number of students interested in short courses abroad on the Shortcourseportals has grown by 500% over the past four years, at a rate of 2.1 times that of bachelors and master degrees.

“We recommend all our university partners to be present in this new modality”

Prospective international students are particularly interested in short courses in Business and Management (24.9%), followed by Engineering and Technology (12.2%), and Social Sciences (10.6%).

About 48% of the courses offered on the portal are online, and these appeal to adult learners who have a family and a steady job but still want to improve their skills, Studyportals’ thought leadership manager Carmen Neghina told The PIE.

However, a thirst for short courses is a reflection of a general trend towards ‘unbundling’ higher education degrees, in order to cater for a lifelong learning mindset that is becoming essential to maintain employability, she added.

Although demand for degree courses has not decreased, Studyportals CEO Edwin van Rest said the industry should notice the trend and expand their education offer to short courses.

“Full degrees still represent the majority of the market, in particular for traditional students, at least for the medium term, but shorter credentials are clearly picking up. We recommend all our university partners to be present in this new modality,” he said.

This type of education model is also more suitable for a knowledge economy, dean at Harvard Extension School and Continuing Education commented Huntington D. Lambert said.

“Providers that can align certificates, degrees, and rapidly growing demands for non-credit learning relevant to the social, civic and professional goals of learners will be the great global brands of the future,” he added.

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