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The benefits of online studying

IPSL June 2020 Image 2

Studying is not just for youngsters – it can broaden your horizons and enrich your life and enjoyment at practically any age.

With so many opportunities for studying now available online, it has probably never been easier to satisfy your thirst for knowledge or new talents – whether for pleasure or career-related.

So, let's take a closer look at some of the reasons for pursuing online studying, what benefits it might bring, where to find it, and how much it might cost.

Why study?

Studying is important at any age. It helps to keep your brain active, while the practice of discussing and sharing learning may generate important social contacts and relationships.

By studying with others, you might help to head off any creeping signs of isolation – and the depression and loneliness which that isolation often brings.

If you are returning to education having missed out on university the first time around, you may find that you are making more of your new-found opportunities to study than your classmates. Not only that, but you might also infect those classmates with your enthusiasm and broaden their own learning through your experience of life and work. You might then take some satisfaction in how you are inspiring a younger generation.

Although studying may take place at many different levels – and by no means, all of it in the formal academic setting of tertiary education – the University of Essex points out that 30.2% are technically "mature students" (a definition that includes anyone over the age of 21).

Finding a course

When it comes to finding a course, you are guided by whatever it is you want to study. And, whatever you want to study, there is unlikely to be any barrier whatsoever in finding a course. Practically anything and everything is on offer. It is simply a question of browsing online and picking the subject or subjects you want from a vast treasure trove.

Paid courses

Online studying, of course, is a highly cost-effective way of distance learning and may often lead to the formal qualification that may help you in any subsequent job search.

Or, it could just be a way for you to enhance your knowledge on a particular subject that interests you.

If you are prepared for your studies, practically every academic institution these days offers some form of distance or online learning. There are 165 institutions of higher education in the UK, says Universities UK. Each one will offer a different choice of online courses – with fees varying from one establishment to another.

To take just one institution, at the University of Derby, as an example, there are a wide range of online courses available in everything from engineering to nursing, accounting to education, and hospitality to environmental sciences. The fees vary according to the length of the course, the level at which you are studying the subject, and the resources supplied by the university.

The top ten

In a posting dated the 18th of March 2020, Study Portals published a list of the top ten UK universities for online studying. The rankings are based on the Times Higher Education Rankings 2020 and the QS Rankings 2020.

The list features some of the leading educational establishments in the UK, such as University College London (UCL), the University of Edinburgh, Kings College London, University of Leeds, and the University of Manchester.

Open University

The Open University (OU) might be one of the best-known providers of online or distance learning.

OU’s prospectus features courses which lead to more than 150 different qualifications. Most of the degree courses and those leading to professional qualifications are paid-for.

Fees are based on the number of credits you may earn from completing the course. Typically, you are likely to study one 60-credit module a year, and the current fee for such a 60-credit module is £3,096.

But the Open University also offers free courses in more than 900 subjects and if you are interested in pursuing online studying with the OU, this might be an excellent way to start.


Perhaps one of the most versatile qualifications is in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).

There is considerable demand for English lessons from every corner of the world – and a great deal of it is done entirely online. One of the other benefits is that when you actually start to teach English as a foreign language, you will also pick up some words from the students you are teaching.

British Council

In a similar vein, there are many courses run by the British Council that involve teaching English and aspects of British culture.

One of the great advantages with these is that all the courses are free – although you might opt for a paid course if you want a certificate of qualification at the end of it.


Udemy claims to offer the largest selection of online courses in the world – and with more than 100,000 courses available, few would argue with that. You name it, they probably have it - just search and browse the Udemy website.

Online study can be a great way to expand your horizons while in lockdown, working, or raising a family. We hope these ideas have inspired you.

The data used in this article is correct as at the time of writing.

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