University tuition fees in England cost an average of £9,188 per year, making the UK one of the most expensive places in the world to study for a degree.
As living costs continue to rise and student debt shows no signs of slowing down, you may be worried that further education is becoming financially unobtainable.
Yet online degrees offer a lower cost alternative to on-campus study, providing a flexible way to get a recognised qualification and enhance your learning, from the comfort of your own home.
Here Cashlady explores whether it really is cheaper to study for your degree online.
Where can you find online degrees?
One of the most well-known providers of online degrees is the Open University, which offers a range of short courses and degrees.
These include access courses, which help you prepare you for more serious levels of study and gain additional entry qualifications, plus in some cases, they’re completely free.
Online degrees from UK Universities
Many other well-known academic institutions, such as the University of the Highlands and Islands, University of Leicester, and the University of Birmingham also providing distance/online learning, in addition to on-campus lectures and seminars.
Do your homework
Before signing up for an online course, do your research and ensure that the institution offering the degree is reputable. Be wary of bogus companies providing fake online degrees, or qualifications not recognised by employers.
If you have any reservations then call the admissions office at your chosen study centre, and look for information on verified courses online, using websites such as The Complete University Guide, before parting with any money.
How much do online degrees cost?
One of the main benefits of obtaining your degree online is that your tuition fees are usually cheaper than if you were on campus and attending classes.
This is especially true for students from England, who are subject to higher fees than in Scotland, where they are free, and Wales and Northern Ireland, where they are cheaper or subsidised.
According to the Open University, for students in England, a standard 60-credit module costs £2,864. Most of their student’s study 60 credits per year, over six years for an honours degree, bringing the total fees, including all tuition and study materials, to £17,184.
This is significantly cheaper than the average £27,564 in tuition fees paid for attending a major UK University for three years, without factoring in increased earning potential while studying in a more flexible way online, from home.
Additional costs when studying for your degree online
While tuition fees may cost less when studying online, there are extra costs that you should consider:
- You will need your own computer and broadband internet access.
- There may be additional costs, such as text books and travel to tutorials or residential study centres.
Financial support for online degrees
Just like with offline degrees, there are various sources of financial support for studying online. Contact your study centre directly to ask for loans, grants and bursaries that may be available depending on your level of income and course of study.
60% of students who study with Open University take out a loan to fund their degree, and those earning under £25,000 may be eligible for additional support including:
- Free access courses
- Bursary of up to a maximum value of £3,000 to help with costs
- After you’ve started studying, you may be eligible for financial help with study-related costs like travel, childcare and internet access
The flexibility of an online degree
Aside from savings on tuition fees, online degrees are frequently undertaken by people with extra responsibilities, such as children or a full-time job, which means they can’t commit to travelling to University every day.
You can usually obtain an online degree on either a full time or part time basis, allowing you to slot studying into your life more easily than if you had to work to a daily timetable of seminars and lectures.
What to consider when selecting your online degree
Committing to study for a degree, whether online or offline, is a serious commitment. Studying at home requires strict discipline and you may find it difficult to prioritise your course work, especially if you have lots of other commitments.
While a wonderful way to further your career, continue learning and boost your salary, for less money than on-campus learning, an online degree is still a large financial commitment that should only be undertaken if you are sure that it’s the correct next step for you.