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Why 2021 is the perfect time to study online

4 Min Read

Now more than ever, being online is a central part of our everyday lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a huge rise in demand for online courses; a trend that we predict will continue into next year and beyond. In fact, forecasts indicate that the e-learning market will be worth an incredible US$319.167 billion by 2025.[1]

As 2020 comes to a close, now is the perfect time to focus on your career aspirations and plan how you will achieve your goals in the New Year and beyond.

Distance learning has many benefits and is one of the best ways you can accelerate your professional development.

Here we take a look at some of the key reasons to embark on a programme of online study in 2021.

Upskill for a competitive advantage

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the global economy and brought uncertainty to the job market, as well as changing the way we work.

The increase in remote working is not just convenient – it has given employers access to a global talent pool. On the one hand, this widens the number of jobs available – but on the other, it also increases the competition. It is likely this may become a more lasting change for many companies and a recent survey found that 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to permanent home-working.

Rapid advances in technology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) also mean that the skills needed in the modern workplace are changing at an increasing pace. Whereas many graduates used to leave studying behind once they reached the workplace, todays professionals are expected to undertake lifelong learning in order to meet the demands of the evolving work environment.

Studying for an online qualification enables you to gain up-to-date knowledge and practical experience that helps you stand out from the crowd – without needing to take a career-break – and demonstrate to employers that you have the skills they need to tackle current challenges.

Distance learning also demonstrates other desirable skills to prospective employers including dedication, time management, a commitment to continued learning and the ability to collaborate with others in the digital environment.

Benefit from new technologies

The increased use of technology in higher education makes now a particularly exciting time to start a distance learning course. Not only does technology make distance learning more accessible, it also enhances the experience for students.

We are seeing an increase in personalisation in the way courses are delivered, for example tailoring students’ experiences based on factors such as their location or past preferences. This helps keep engagement high and stops the learning experience feeling disconnected.

Online programmes are increasingly using gamification to increase student participation and many universities are investigating how they can introduce the use of Virtual Reality (VR) to further enhance students learning.

Simulations are also becoming more popular in online learning. For example, as part of the Online Masters of Public Administration at the University of Birmingham, we include an interactive simulation designed to help students apply their learning directly to scenarios in real time.

Gain a global perspective

Online students not only gain a new qualification – they also gain a network of likeminded peers from all over the world. As an increasingly global society, having an international perspective, especially in your educational background, enables you to see the world from a different point of view and approach challenges in a more informed way.

Online courses typically have an international cohort; for example, 67% of our Online MBA students are studying from overseas, across more than 70 different countries.

Distance learning is also designed to be highly interactive and engaging, including discussion forums, live lectures and group work, which helps form a community spirit and global network between students that they can call upon throughout their professional career.

Achieve your goals

2020 has been a catalyst for change for many, causing us to re-evaluate what is important in the workplace and what we want to achieve in our careers. An online programme helps you to gain the knowledge, skills and practical experience to realise your ambitions, whether that is a promotion in your current role, or a complete career change.

Choosing to study online enables you to fit your studies around your current commitments and work at a time and pace that suits you.

Whilst many institutions are moving their campus courses online as an emergency measure, at the University of Birmingham we have several years of experience in delivering 100% online postgraduate degrees.

Our distance learning programmes have been built from the ground up to provide students with an immersive, interactive and engaging online learning experience.

If you are looking to advance your career in 2021 and beyond, the University of Birmingham offers a range of 100% online masters programmes that can help you to achieve your goals. For more information please visit our website or call our admissions team on +44 (0)800 032 7101.


  1. UNKNOWN (2020) Global Online Education Market – Forecasts From 2020 To 2025 (Online) Available at: [Accessed 29.10.20]
  2. GARTNER (2020) Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently (Online) Available at: [Accessed 29.10.20]
  3. Updated 11th February 2020. Country names categorised using information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [online] Available at: [Accessed 11.02.2020]

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