As a distance learning student, you might be wondering whether this form of tertiary education is truly valuable. The South African government has recognised that distance learning has a vital role to play in the tertiary education sector, and that it has huge potential to fill the skills gaps suffered by the country.
What is government’s view of distance learning?
Government has encouraged the development of distance education ever since South Africa became a democracy in 1994. In recognition of distance learning’s importance, in 2012 the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) developed the Draft Policy Framework for the Provision of Distance Education in South African Universities.
The framework states that distance learning has “served the invaluable role of bringing higher education within the reach of students who would not otherwise have been able to study at this level. In the past, it has typically done so at a significantly reduced cost both to the state and to the student.”
In addition, South African distance learning practitioners are now providing innovations that “have been capable of strengthening teaching and learning in South African higher education across the board.” The policy framework goes on to state that these institutions are “providing leadership in the research and development design, and advocacy of curricula and materials that are especially tailored to the needs of independent students and sensitive to South African students’ circumstances.”
Distance learning has given hundreds of thousands of students an opportunity to further their education and develop their skills. In the latest available statistics, approximately 316 000 people were enrolled in distance learning education programmes in 2009, according to the policy framework.
In the framework, government has made clear that it is intent on expanding the provision of distance learning education, acknowledging that it “can, under certain conditions, provide high quality educational opportunity more cost-efficiently and cost-effectively than traditional face-to-face provision.”
While the Draft Policy Framework deals mainly with the role of distance learning in higher education, it is clear that distance learning plays a key role in the broader tertiary education sector.
For a summary of the advantages of a distance learning course, click here.
While distance learning offers many advantages, does it also offer a viable path to a successful career?
Your career opportunities as a distance learning student
Distance learning gives you the opportunity to study many of the same types of courses that you can study at face-to-face institutions. With the constantly changing working environment and the growing popularity of distance and online education, employers are also recognising the value of distance learning. Today, employers in many industries are more interested in your ability to do the job than in where you obtained your qualifications.
Accredited distance learning colleges , such as Oxbridge Academy, offer courses that are ideal for everyone, from school-leavers to professionals looking to develop their skills or change their career paths.
The skills shortage in areas such as engineering, accounting, education, IT and management gives distance learning students a golden opportunity to use their qualifications to find employment. These aren’t the only career streams where you can find a job with such a qualification: a wide range of options are open to you, from tourism and hospitality, to occupational health and safety, beauty therapy, human resources and many others.
You may think that your distance learning qualification is less attractive to employers than a qualification from a face-to-face institution. This is true in some respects. But distance learning and part-time studies give you the chance to build experience through volunteer work or internships, and to focus on developing the soft skills that employers are placing increasing value on. This will often give you a better chance of finding a job than any degree without experience.
You need to realise that the skills you develop through distance learning are highly valued. Through this flexible model of education, you have all the opportunities needed to achieve your career dreams.
Start your distance learning journey with Oxbridge Academy.