As technology develops and evolves, the number of courses offered through online and distance education continues to grow. While the popularity of these courses is increasing, there are still a few misconceptions associated with this mode of study. Read on as we set the record straight.
Study options are limited
Many people assume that online and distance education only includes theory-heavy courses, but there are an increasing number of practical and professional degrees tailored to this study mode. In addition to general degrees in arts, business and science, there are now a huge range of courses on offer — everything from professional degrees in education, law, psychology and accounting to more specialised options, such as paramedic practice, nutrition, creative arts, journalism, ecotourism, complementary medicine, marine science and sustainable development.
Online qualifications aren’t equivalent to on-campus degrees
Those studying through online or distance education receive an equivalent qualification to on-campus students — so the idea that these degrees are not considered as highly by employers is certainly a myth. In fact, many off-campus students are balancing their studies with family, work or other commitments. Combined with the independent nature of online and distance education, this illustrates that you have high levels of motivation and dedication — qualities that are certainly valued in the workforce.
You won’t have access to support services
While it’s generally true that online and distance education requires more self-direction than on-campus study, the idea that you’ll be left on your own is far from the truth. Institutions provide plenty of support for external students — in fact many offer 24/7 assignment and study help. Online services may include virtual lectures and tutorials, online quizzes, and opportunities to chat and receive help from teaching staff.
There’s no interaction between classmates
While you may not have many opportunities to interact with your classmates face to face, you won’t be left to study alone. Most institutions offering online and distance education provide some form of virtual classroom or chatroom where you can talk to other students in the course. Some courses are also offered in mixed mode, meaning you spend part of your time on campus or in practical placements.
You can’t access HELP loans for online courses
Your mode of study does not affect your eligibility for a Commonwealth Supported Place or HELP loan. So long as you are enrolled in an approved course at an approved provider and are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can access HELP loans (including HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP) — whether you are studying full time, part time or online. See Degree costs and loans for more information.