This is a way of study that appeals to many people. There are many advantages to this, the main one being the ability to study at a time and pace that suits whilst being able to work and earn. It is possible to study from quite basic levels through to post-graduate courses.
Begin by looking at the Qualifications Explained [455kb] leaflet which should help to clarify how qualifications are valued.
Finding a course
Finding a suitable course can be difficult. Although there are many valid courses available online, there is also a significant number that have no real worth, or even worse are a con.
Before you part with any money for distance learning courses, consider the following;
- Who validates or accredits the course?- Ideally this should be a body unattached to the provider, although if you are studying purely for leisure this may not matter.
- What is the qualification worth and who says so? Check if the qualification is on the Ofqual Register of Qualifications. If it is, you should be told exactly how many credits this is and at what level.
- How long has the institution been in business?
- What sort of support will you get during the course? How is this support given?
- Is the course subject something that can really be studied online or through distance learning? You may be able to study some practical theory online, but it is unlikely to be enough on its own.
If you are at all unsure about choosing a course, please for help with this.
At present, the only distance learning courses where funding is available are those through the Open University. Support is calculated through an income based means test and there are other conditions to this. Please see Student Funding for more details.
Some of the best known providers of distance/online courses are listed below.
For GCSEs, A Levels and certain vocational courses, try National Extension College or ICS Distance Learning as a starting point.
For Higher Education, the Open University is probably the best established provider and you may be able to get funding for these courses.
The Open College of the Arts offers a similar service to the Open University but concentrates on Creative Arts courses.