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Distance Degrees in the United Kingdom



Every year, over 400,000 students from all over the world choose to study for a UK degree to enhance their careers and knowledge. There are many opportunities to study for UK degrees outside of the UK through part-time study, distance and online learning. This means that you can achieve all the benefits of a UK education without any disruption to your career.


Flexibility has been identified as a key element for working professionals around the world, and courses have been specifically designed to cater to your needs. You can choose to study on a part-time basis with teaching support or you can study at your own pace through distance or e-learning. Checklist: Why study for a UK degree by part-time study or distance learning?

• you can experience a top-class UK education without leaving your job

• a wide range of programmes and support are available to meet your personal needs – you can choose between attending classes at the weekend, intensive study periods or studying on your own with direct support from a tutor in the UK

• rigorous quality systems ensure that the academic standards are the same – wherever and however you study.




What kind of support is provided?

Part-time and flexible study enables you to combine your studies with work and other commitments. The level of support for these programmes varies significantly and it is important to choose the level of support that best meets your needs. You will probably already have some experience of learning and what learning style works for you.

Part-time study requires you to attend classes locally – usually at the weekend or in the evening. Teaching is usually provided by teachers and academics from the country you are studying in. UK academics may also provide some of the teaching at certain times of the year. Part-time study is a good choice if you prefer to have a structured learning environment and like to interact with other students.

You can study more flexibly through distance and e-learning. This involves studying through set study materials or though an online learning environment. Many distance learning programmes also require attendance at study weekends (usually in the country where you are studying). UK academics will run an intensive teaching programme during these weekends to help you in your studies.



What is the final award and is it recognised?

Qualifications from UK universities and colleges are of the same academic standard wherever they are delivered. Each university or college of higher education is responsible for ensuring that programmes delivered internationally meet the same high quality standards as if they were delivered in the UK.

Before enrolling for a degree programme, you should find out what award you will receive on completion and make sure it is from a recognised UK university or college of higher education. You can find a list of recognised UK universities and colleges on the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) website www.dfes.gov.uk/recognisedukdegrees .

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) also works with higher education institutions to ensure standards and to encourage continuous improvement. The QAA inspect institutions to assess the quality of education provided. These reports are publicly available through the website and include audits of overseas provision as well as provision in the UK.

For some subjects, particularly MBA and other business courses, institutions will also have accreditation from specialist bodies such as the Association of MBAs (AMBA) www.mba.org.uk or the European Foundation for Management Development (EQUIS) www.efmd.be . This is an additional level of accreditation.

On successful completion of your programme, you will receive a degree certificate and transcript. The degree certificate provides details of your degree and the UK university or college of higher education that has given this award. If you have studied a joint degree or franchised programme, information on the local institution where you have studied may also be on the degree certificate. The transcript provides more detailed information on what you have studied as well as where and how you have studied it. Together the degree certificate and transcript provide all of the information that an employer or professional body might require on your qualification.

You should also check national regulations in your country. Many governments regulate degrees from foreign providers through additional accreditation or registration schemes. You should therefore check that the program you are taking is recognised in your own country.


How much are the course fees and are there any additional costs?

Costs vary considerably depending on the programme, but are likely to be less than full-time study in the UK. It is also important to check what materials (books; computer facilities etc.) are available as part of your course and what you will be expected to source yourself. Many UK universities now have excellent electronic libraries.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is as varied as the methods of teaching and learning. Work may be assessed by continuous assessment or by written examination at the end of the course, or the end of each module. Project and dissertation work may also be a part of the assessment. Checklist: Choosing the right course

• check the Education UK website www.educationuk.org or your local British Council office to find out what programs are available

• if there is more than one program, compare the course content and study patterns to see which one best meets your needs

• find out what the final award is and who this is from.

• check to see if there is regulation of foreign degrees in your country. If there is, find out if the final qualification will be recognised in your own country. This is particularly important if you are employed by the government.




Entrance and applications


What qualifications would I need?


Entrance requirements vary depending on the institution and the qualification. Entry requirements are there to ensure that you will be able to manage your studies successfully. Most institutions also will require a good standard of English language.


How do I apply?

Applications should be made either directly to the UK institution or to the local partner institution or agent. The course information should make it clear where to apply.


UK universities – major distance learning providers

The majority of UK universities have degree programmes that can be studied outside of the UK. For full details, check the EducationUK website www.educationuk.org

Below is a list of some universities that have significant numbers of students enrolled on degree programmes outside of the UK.

Please note that this is not a complete list.


Interactive University provides degree and other programmes around the world using face to face teaching combined with online learning. www.interactiveuniversity.net/students/students.htm


University of London External Programme offers over 100 degrees and diplomas that can be studied by distance learning. www.londonexternal.ac.uk


The Open University is a major distance learning institution. Some Open University programmes are available globally, others are only available in selected locations. www.open.ac.uk



There are a wide range of UK MBAs available by distance learning, e-learning or through part-time study. The Association of MBAs website may provide you with useful information on some of the programmes that are available. www.mba.org.uk



Next steps


Checklist: Your next steps

• Are you confident that your English is good enough for your studies? (You would usually be asked for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 5.5 – 6.5 or TOEFL 550 – 600).

• Do you have the right qualifications and experience to gain entrance to the program of study? Check with the UK university or local representative.

• Check the website to see where to apply. If in doubt, check with the university.




British Council  


For further information, you can find details of your nearest office at www.britishcouncil.org/home-contact-worldwide.htm which includes links to country web pages and a worldwide address book giving contact details for all offices.


Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)


Southgate House Southgate Street Gloucester GL1 1UB

Telephone +44 (0) 14 5255 7000 Fax +44 (0) 14 5255 7070 Email comms@qaa.ac.uk  


List of UK Universities and University Colleges



List of UK Further and Higher Education Colleges



Recognised UK Degrees



Times Online - Good University Guide