Europe Catching up on Online Education

The availability and popularity of online education in Europe are on the rise. Following the revolutionary developments in online learning in the US, Europe is now catching up, increasing both funding and infrastructure. To build awareness for European online learning, a new web-portal brings transparency to the quickly growing options available.

In the last decade, the US has heavily invested in online education: it is projected that US online education will outgrow traditional education by 2015. Already today, renowned institutes like Stanford and MIT offer massive online courses for free – followed by up to 100,000 students worldwide. Europe now heads in the same direction. Within its upcoming ‘Erasmus For All’ programme the European Commission makes more funding available to support distance education in Europe.

Traditionally, in Europe online education has been associated with commercial institutes, sometimes of doubtful quality. As distance learning however makes higher education more accessible and affordable it “has become an important answer to the current educational challenges and will significantly impact our educational landscape”, states Piet Henderikx, Secretary General of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU). Today, about 500 European institutes provide short courses and entire degree programmes at a distance – with continuous success: last year student enrolment increased 15-20% while the offer grew with 40% as reported by universities across Europe. That makes online education an increasingly serious alternative to traditional education – and disproves many still widespread misconceptions.

A new portal will now be launched to bring transparency to the quickly growing study options: http://www.DistanceLearningPortal.eu. Funded by the European Union and developed by the European study choice platform Studyportals and EADTU, this central information source will support orienting learners worldwide to study abroad from home. On 27 September 2012 the portal will officially be launched by Commissioner Vassiliou at the EADTU annual conference in Cyprus.

To date, already 180 institutes participate in this European initiative (88 in UK and 3 in Ireland) ranging from Open University to London School of Economics – listing a total of more than 1,200 Bachelors, Masters, PhDs and Short Courses.

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