The world of online education is getting bigger, but for the vast majority of students, the choices for how to go about it are limited.
But now, in a new move, Irish government-funded online university providers are putting students on the map.
The first new provider to enter the market in nearly five years is Irish Institute of Technology (IIT) – the largest of its kind in Europe.
The online learning institution is set to become the first provider to take over the teaching of a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s degree in the UK.IITs graduates, who are now being able to enrol on a course through the university’s online platform, will be able to use their degrees to get into the world of professional development and research and can also start their own businesses.
The IITs online learning platform, named MOOCs, is already available to about 10,000 students, but it is set for a major expansion with the opening of an additional 45,000 online students.IOTs will also be able provide its students with a degree in its subject areas.
In fact, the IIT will offer both a bachelor of commerce degree and a master of science degree for students who want to work as consultants or scientists.
Online colleges are currently offered to a select group of the population, including the UK, but IIT’s launch will see them spread far and wide.
“I believe the opportunity to be an online degree is a game-changer for the education sector and the future of our country,” IIT chief executive, Prof Michael Duffy, said.
“We are creating a new sector of higher education and the world will be watching us closely.”IIT students can now go online to take up a degree, while the majority of their degree courses are offered online, too.
“The online environment has opened up many avenues of study for students, enabling them to take on courses online,” said Dr David O’Brien, the head of IIT Higher Education and Science.
“In addition to having a range of options to choose from, we also have a network of mentors who can advise students on how to get the most out of the online learning experience.”
Online courses are a growing part of the ICT education landscape.
The IIT is already home to about 30,000 courses on its platform, with more than 30,500 of those being online.
More than two-thirds of these courses are in the subject areas of business, education, health, humanities and social sciences, and a further 3,000 are in psychology.
There are currently around 1.2 million students in Ireland enrolled in higher education.
About 90 per cent of the students enrolled in online courses are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and almost 90 per,000 of them are Irish.
The average cost of an online course in Ireland is €3,100, while students in England pay around £1,200.