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UK: Singapore peak for online degree study

Singapore and Hong Kong head up the league table for full online UK degree study by overseas students in 2015/16. Nigeria, Malaysia and the US follow, with growth in these countries being attributed to greater digital connectivity as well as demands for flexible learning.

Online Degree, Keypath, HESAThe British Council in Singapore organises events to promote UK study. Photo: British Council Singapore

"Online degrees are quickly becoming a natural option for students and universities alike"

New research released from Keypath Education, taken from HESA data, has revealed the shape of growth in fully-online degree study offered by UK institutions.

While Singapore dominates this trend for online degree studies, with 12,271 students recorded in this cohort for the latest available academic year, the data since 2011 reveals strong upwards growth of 135% for South African enrolments, for example.

Australian enrolments were likewise up by 125% in the same period while Canadian enrolments were up by 41% and American students, who featured in fifth place by volume of enrolments, were up by just over a quarter, despite enrolments across all nationalities remaining fairly constant in the same period.

Keypath Education released the data as they revealed a new partnership with Aston University – ranked 33rd most international university in the world in the THE rankings.

The company works with 19 other partner institutions in the UK, US, Australia and Canada to provide online courses to over 3,500 learners across over 60 degree programs.

L-R: Rajay Naik, CEO Europe at Keypath, with VC at Aston, Alec Cameron

Alec Cameron, vice chancellor of Aston University, commented, “We live in an increasingly global and technology-driven world, where online degrees are quickly becoming a natural option for students and universities alike.”

Keypath said that Aston was partnering with them to target growth markets such as Nigeria.

Aston’s MBA programs and MSc courses in Business Management and Finance, Accounting and Finance and International Accounting and Finance have just had their first student intake with fees starting at £11,050 for UK students and £16,050 for international students.

Rajay Naik, Europe CEO at Keypath, said: “It’s clear we are experiencing a global boom in the number of students studying online degrees, and it is fantastic that so many are choosing UK institutions for distance learning.”

He added, “With Brexit on the horizon, it is more important than ever that British institutions are taking the lead on innovation in order that more learners can work, earn and learn.”

“Reforms we are bringing in will help more providers offer high quality degrees and introduce more flexible ways of working”

Universities minister, Jo Johnson, showed his support for online delivery of UK education. “We want to see more innovative and flexible courses offered, catering to the differing work and life demands of the widest range of people,” he said.

“That is why partnerships such as the one between Aston University and Keypath Education to deliver online degrees are so important.”

He added, “Reforms we are bringing in through the Higher Education and Research Act will help more providers offer high quality degrees and introduce more flexible ways of working so that more students can benefit from excellent teaching and go on to secure a fulfilling graduate career.”

Johnson nodded to Aston University’s Gold rating in the TEF framework too. However, recent research by Hobsons suggests international students are unclear on the fact that TEF ratings only relate to undergraduate course provision.

  • Top 5 countries where its residents undertook online degrees in 2015/16 were:
    Singapore – 12,271
    Hong Kong – 6,583
    Nigeria – 5,252
    Malaysia – 4,576
    United States – 4,454

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