The growth of the Internet has enabled many to study with the UK universities and colleges through distance learning. It usually means learning at home or work, with no need to visit the learning centre (although some expect you to attend for examinations). The UK distance learning courses are available at many levels, including degree and post-graduate qualifications.
The UK courses online are designed to engage your interest from the start and help you acquire the job you want when you graduate. There is a wide range of them in each online university; the biggest online provider in the UK is The Open University which offers over six hundred courses.
All the descriptions of the UK courses and qualifications can be seen online or students can order one of general prospectuses:
- Undergraduate courses catalogue.
- Undergraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees Prospectus.
- Higher Degrees prospectus, describing all postgraduate courses and qualifications.
- Research Degrees prospectus, depicting opportunities, offered for both: full-time and part-time researches in most academic disciplines.
The style of teaching courses in the UK is called 'supported open learning', also known as 'distance learning'. Open learning means that you will be learning in your own time by reading course material, working on course activities, writing assignments and, perhaps, working with other students. Supported means a support from a tutor and the student services staff at Regional Centers, as well as from centralized areas, such as the Library or the Students Associations. A variety of media is used to help students learn. The UK courses may use any of the following different media that you will use from home (or wherever you choose to study): printed course materials, set books, audio cassettes, video cassettes, TV programmes, cd-rom/software, web sites and a home experiment kit.
As an online student, you receive:
- Full access to all course materials
- Self assessment tests and learning support material
- Free access to Online Libraries (and Video loan library)
- Peer support and interaction through the Student Directory and Discussion Forums
- Intensive tutorial support from highly qualified experts in their fields
Before applying for an online course, it is worth making sure that the institution you have chosen is recognized by the relevant UK authorities. Qualifications of the UK courses, awarded by accredited online universities and colleges, are recognized by academic institutions throughout the UK, the European Union and the rest of the world. They are also recognized by a wide range of professional bodies and they can help you to gain an entry or a membership.
Continuing education is an important element in the creation and maintenance of a society, in which all citizens have the right to participate in lifelong learning. Continuing education can overcome barriers and enhance the participation of marginalized groups. The growth of online learning communities today is seen as a means of enhancing links between the peoples of Europe.