The London Business School or the University of Cambridge are not going to lose their popularity anytime soon, but there has been a significant increase in the number of students opting for online education when it comes to business degrees in the last five years.
The same tendency has also been seen in plenty of other fields as well, but MBA and other advanced business education in particular has seen the highest boom in the online education sector. While those are the facts, the real question is, what is it, or rather what are the factors that are leading professionals within the United Kingdom to seek out and study in online business schools rather than offline ones?
The Practical Difference between Online and Offline Programmes is Nearly Absent
There is no comparison between actually being in the field and sitting in front of a computer at home, attending video lessons and seminars, but this not a problem for MBA students or those looking to get an MSc in Business & Management, because they are already professionals who are working in the field. These are advanced courses meant to further the knowledge of experienced professionals to give them an edge and further enhance their career opportunities. In that respect, the distance learner isn’t really missing out on anything. On the contrary, they might have some practical advantages over those that choose to take the traditional path.
The Work Experience Advantage
In continuation of the point mentioned just above, there is actually a very profound advantage which the online business student enjoys over the traditional student completing fulltime course from a traditional university. The online student isn’t missing out on the job experience, while the offline student has to, because it isn’t feasible for him/her to hold a fulltime job and attend business school at the same time. They can and often do still hold a part-time job to make do, but that one year at the coffee shop is not the kind of experience that will count for much later on, when they are appearing for high-up positions in MNCs post-graduation.
The shift from becoming a fulltime employee to a fulltime student is psychologically jarring as well, but in terms of career advantages, the online student has a significant one. By the time they complete their business school from a reputed online university, they also have the experience from their current job on their resumes, which will be missing on the resume of the fulltime student who had to take a break from work.
This isn’t a small difference either, since practical experience is a key determinant that every employer is looking for in their candidates, but when the candidate has both the experience and the education, the odds naturally favour them for getting the job or the promotion in all imaginable scenarios.
Availability of Respected and Accredited Online Business Schools in the UK
The advantage on the resume will only matter if the MBA or MSc in Business was completed from an accredited institution, which applies to both online and offline Master’s degrees. Earlier, there just were not enough of them available in the country or on the internet in general. Today, however, there’s the assurance of places like Aston University Online which offer multiple online business management programmes and MBA courses with the most respected international accreditations. Their MBA programme itself is ranked as the 12th best MBA online program internationally.
The MSc in Business & Management Distance Learning Degree from Aston University Online has triple accreditation from AACSB, AMBA and Equis, making it one of the best options for professionals looking to widen their career opportunities while gaining work experience simultaneously.
The guarantee of quality from online universities and the accreditations from the most revered accrediting authorities in global business education now presents a clear and better opportunity to complete an online business management programme for business professionals in the UK. This explains why there has been a shift towards online business degrees in the last few years.
The presence of accredited courses over a distance learning programme is certainly not the only reason behind the tendency to lean towards it, but it is definitely the most important one. Irrespective of how convenient it might have been, without the career value that such degrees are supposed to hold, an online degree would not have been helpful in any way, which is the reason why they used to be shunned by recruiters and employers.
The Economic Factor is Playing a Huge Role
It is no secret that the average UK citizen in any of the major cities has to pay a lot more for rent and almost everything else compared to just a few years ago, such is the effect of inflation.
Considering how expensive business education is in general, it is enough to put a dent in the economy of the average student as it is. Education loans and their interests are no joke either, as they can become a huge burden to pay off even after the student has finished the course and re-joined work with a better paid salary than before.
However, the hardest time is when the education loan is already on the shoulders of the student and they have had to take time off work to complete the same business school which is costing them a lot of money. It’s never easy to concentrate on learning business theory when you are not sure where your next month’s rent is going to come from.
It’s practically a position where the individual and their family has lost a major source of income, but has incurred a huge debt at the same time. Not only do they have to now find an alternate source of income, but they already start accruing interest on their student debt, whether or not the student in the family lands the big job promised.
This is not a scenario most working professionals can afford to put themselves or their families in, especially when accredited and well-respected online business management programme options are available to them. The flexibility of online business schools lets the students keep their jobs, which means that they do not have to lose a source of income, making everything so much easier.
The fact that they also save on the cost of a commute, and the course fees online are generally quite a bit lower than traditional courses, almost makes online business management programmes a natural and logical choice for most working Brits.
The only reason not to go online for their business education would have been the lack of respect in the job fields amongst employers, but now that is no longer a problem, since employers are even encouraging their employees to complete their courses online, as they wouldn’t be losing out on productivity by having to replace and retrain a new recruit in place of the experienced employee. The advantage of distance learning is not limited to the employees alone quite clearly.
The Accessibility Factor
When a distance learning course can be completed 100% online, it naturally makes it more accessible to everyone, but the accessibility factor makes a huge difference to students both in rural sections of the country, as well as students outside it.
No longer does anyone have to leave their current city, town or country of residence to get a business degree from an accredited university in the United Kingdom. The online business management programme makes sure that wherever the student is, it remains accessible to him/her as long as they have an active internet connection.
It makes a huge difference and opens up opportunities for people to enhance their careers, without having to spend money which would otherwise be necessary to make the move from one city to another, or maybe even international travel, which would also mean that the student would be losing their current job as well.
Allowance of Learning at One’s Own Pace
Not everyone is as well prepared or able to grasp the various advanced lessons in business management programmes as others can and, for them, an online business management programme is the best and possibly the only option. They are allowed to learn at their own pace, without the strict deadlines and schedules of a more traditional programme.
Of course, on the other spectrum of things, those that have a brilliant mind can actually complete their MBA in just one year! It may take a little more devotion, but it is possible, and as long as the students can do it, the universities won’t stop them either. In this respect, online business education is what it needs to be for the student in question. The courses prioritise the student above all, which is what education should be like in general.
It may not even be feasible to a lot of us, but there are students out there who are completing multiple degrees simultaneously. For them, online education or distance education is a real boon.
Consider the software engineering student who is also completing their BBA online after school. The potential of a resume which has both degrees on it and is held by someone so young is just tremendous. From the point of view of the hiring software development firm, she is going to be an asset for the company who will not only be able to lead the design of the software products they make, but will also take up leadership positions in the actual business part.
Of course, it requires academic excellence and dedication from an early age, but that isn’t exactly lacking in the UK and distance education has presented a path for such genius to thrive. If you have what it takes, online education in general can provide you with the tools to give it shape.
The Threat of Fake Courses
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage which the online education industry is facing right now, is the abundance of fake or unaccredited courses. Not only do they ruin the financial future and careers of the students beyond repair, they also harm the reputation of distance learning itself. Once someone is duped into signing up and paying for a poor course, that student will forever hold a grudge against the entire online education system and spread the word. It is an understandable but wrong perception, which harms the actual respected universities and the prejudice they have fought so hard against to finally overcome.
An MBA without any of the necessary accreditations is not worth anything, and every bit of money spent on such a course is lost forever. Even if a website promises everything on the advertising, it is extremely important and necessary to verify the accreditations which they claim to have by going to the authorised websites themselves.
Each and every legal educational authority that accredits business programmes and schools has them included and listed on their respective official websites. It is advised that before joining any programme online, students should visit the websites and check whether a programme is indeed accredited or not.
Fraudulent activities surrounding the online education industry are inevitable, given that it is after all, a multibillion-pound industry, but by using common sense and doing one’s own research and verifications, such sites can be easily avoided.
Although it’s too soon to make such a prediction, seeing the amount of online business schools that are opening up these days, it is quite possible that both educators and recruiters might, in the future, consider the possibility of allowing at least a part of all business courses being completed online. It just makes so much more sense in terms of productivity, economic feasibility and time management. Whether that happens anytime soon or not, the number of students choosing to go with online business schools in the UK is only going to increase significantly in the coming years. If you yourself are considering the same, just make sure it has the right accreditations before joining.