The increasing demand for ‘’work experience’’ by corporate organisations as a prerequisite for employment is changing how students respond to higher education. Today, many students are beginning to consider online education as it gives them the opportunity to study and also work. Although conventional brick and mortar institutions continue to take the lead for students’ enrolment, there is a relatively increasing number of students’ going for online study. Today, many brick and mortar institutions now have online versions of their programmes. Some institutions purely operate as an online institute, where they offer distance learning programmes.
About a decade ago, the mainstream to obtain a degree was through physical classroom study. With this system, studying for a Master’s or Doctorate degree may require you to pause other activities like corporate work. However, the game has changed today, and you can now work and study for the same quality of degree online. The higher education revolution has birthed online-varsity, and this has created a new ecosystem of the online student community. Here, students across the globe come together under a single learning platform to study for the same programme.
What is Online Higher Education and How does it Work?
Before going deep into the nitty-gritty of online higher education community, let us first have a glimpse of online higher education. First, higher education is a post-secondary or tertiary education leading to the award of an academic degree. By application, online higher education is a post-secondary or tertiary education leading to an award of an academic degree. This degree is obtained through an online study system.
To further explain this, the degree awarded for online study is obtained through distance learning, and programmes are delivered online. Technology tools like Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Learning Management System (LMS), E-library, Computer-Based Test (CBT) among others are deployed in delivering these programmes. At the end of the study, students are awarded a degree which is about the same quality as students who have studied in a physical classroom. Universities offering degree programmes for on-campus study sometimes offer an online version for selected programmes. At the end of the study, they award students the same degree they award their students studying on-campus. Although in some cases, universities do indicate the mood of study – ‘’online study’’ or ‘’ distance learning’’, but this isn’t the case for many.
Benefits of Online Higher Education
Online higher education programme comes with many competitive benefits which may be worth to consider. Here, we are going to closely examine some of the key benefits of online higher education, and why it should be given strong consideration.
One of the key benefits of online higher education is the flexible study system. The study system for online higher education is highly flexible which makes it possible for students to study and engage in other extracurricular activities. Students have the freedom to merge their professional careers and schooling. Most people who choose online study tend to have a dire need for pursuing their professional career. This at the end could give them an edge as they can study and practice simultaneously.
The tuition fee for online higher education is far more affordable than on-campus programmes. On average, it is about 50% lower than the cost of on-campus study. Affordability is critical for higher education, and many people today can not afford quality higher education because of the cost. Online education cost less for various reasons. For instance, there is no need for physical structures, heavy power supply system, and other facilities and their maintenance costs.
Online Higher Education Community
There is an interestingly large online learning community of students from a diverse background with diverse culture. This help students to connect and network among themselves. For most online higher education programmes, student recruitment does not focus mainly on the home country. They concentrate either at certain region(s) or the entire globe. This brings together, a rich international student online community. At the end of the study, you will be able to connect with your student-colleagues from different part of the world. This could mean valuable assets for you in your professional career journey.
Continuous Learning and Engagement
Students studying through a physical classroom may not have the luxury of time for personalised attention and follow-ups. However, for online study, students can always follow-up through the Virtual Learning Environment, or other personalised channels like emails, calls, SMSs, chat systems, including social media. Communication and study systems in distance learning programmes are virtual in nature. This helps to enhance more virtual personalised communications. Online study system helps to build the habit and eagerness for continuous learning and engagement.
Access to Specialised Expertise
Online higher institutions are increasingly making available unconventional courses and programmes. Online programmes offer many specialised academic courses and programmes. Many of these programmes are not available in most traditional institutions. For instance, Unicaf University offers a Master’s degree in Web Design and Development, including several conventional and unconventional online programmes. You can find the details here. A number of online higher institutions, including on-campus institutions are increasingly offering various specialised programmes.
The benefits for online higher education are numerous to mention but a few. While this may seem interesting, it may be pertinent to note that not all countries offer accreditation for online degree programmes. In addition, some online universities offer low-quality degrees. Therefore, students should pay attention to the accreditation and recognition of the institution. However, an increasing number of institutions are recognised, the programmes offered are duly accredited. Unicaf University is an and offers top-quality degrees which are recognised globally.
The University is also a member of many education bodies and duly registered with many African regulatory bodies. Here are some references; in Malawi and Zambia, Unicaf University has been issued accreditation for its programmes. Some of these details can be found here, here and also here. Not only that, Unicaf University is a member of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), and also a member of the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA). This information can be verified by clicking on the coloured links. The institution is also in academic partnership with several UK varsities and EU varsities like University of South Wales (UK) and University of Suffolk (UK), among others. This information can also be verified by clicking on the coloured links.
Unicaf University is a pan-African institution, with established campuses and learning centres in 11 African countries. The institution offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes of top quality through online and blended study system. Unicaf University’s education system brings an array of opportunities for students in Nigeria seeking internationally recognised degrees. Candidates can also study in their home country through the online study system of Unicaf University. They can still study for these degrees “on campus” in one of the Unicaf University campuses in Africa.
Okeke Vincent Chidozie (Entrepreneur, Writer & Digital Education Consultant)