John F Kennedy has been quoted as saying: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.”1
When we are challenged by circumstance, it can make us revaluate what we want from life. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that has deeply affected us all across the past year. Whilst repeated lockdowns and the continued uncertainty about the future have been tough, for may people and businesses, it has also been a catalyst for change.
With Google searches for online courses hitting an all-time high in lockdown,2 it seems many of us are already seeking out our next challenge.
Here we explore 5 reasons why a lockdown is the perfect time to study online.
You’ve set new goals
The world has changed; have your goals changed too?
A recent study of UK employees showed that 4 in 10 respondents have found the coronavirus outbreak to be a ‘wake-up call’. In fact, more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career following the outbreak and 10% are planning to retrain in a new field.3
Moving in and out of lockdowns – and the resulting change of pace and uncertainty – has made many of us reassess our priorities. Whether you’ve decided it’s time to change your career, upskill to get that role you’ve had your eye on or expand your knowledge in an area that has always interested you, online courses can help you realise your potential in an uncertain, post-lockdown world.
The daily commute is a thing of the past
It is likely that working from home, at least more frequently than before, is here to stay. The pandemic ended up being an unplanned social experiment for the global workforce, with many businesses around the world realising that the daily trek to the office was actually unnecessary – along with paying rent and travel expenses. In fact, 67% of businesses expect their work from home policies to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term.4
According to research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the average daily commute in the UK is 59 minutes, which is the equivalent of 221 hours per year.5 That amounts to a lot of time saved towards a better work/life balance – and time to study.
Being productive is good for your wellbeing
Being in and out of multiple – and potentially ongoing – lockdowns has thrown many of our lives into disarray. Whilst a bit of downtime at home is enjoyable, it is always possible to have too much of a good thing.
The sense of personal achievement, creating a solid routine and spending your time doing something worthwhile means that dedicating time to study could actually be good for your mental wellbeing.
“As James Wallman says in his book ‘Time and How to Spend It’, personal growth is central to many psychological theories of long-term happiness” writes David Robson for The Guardian. “You could say that humans are like bicycles: if you’re not heading towards something, you fall over.”6
Stand out in a competitive market
The long-term implications of the pandemic are still unknown, but economically it is likely to be a bumpy ride to recovery. The future of the job market is uncertain and sadly, we have already seen closures and redundancies as a result.
Taking the time to study for an advanced qualification can help you stand out from the crowd and future-proof your career. Not only will you have gained specialist knowledge and skills, dedicating yourself to an online course demonstrates your commitment, drive and time management abilities to prospective employers.
Upskill at a (social) distance
At a time when social interaction is restricted, studying for an online course is ideal.
At the University of Birmingham, we are already one of the largest providers of distance learning, offering a range of postgraduate level degrees that have been specifically developed for a virtual audience.
There is no distinction between an online degree and its campus equivalent in terms of the teaching, learning or prestige of the qualification – there isn’t even a distinction on the certificate. In addition, online courses attract a range of people from all over the world, providing a highly diverse and enriching experience for students to network and learn together.
If the past year has led you to consider a career change, or if you’re keen to advance in your current position, the University of Birmingham offers a range of 100% online postgraduate programmes to help you achieve your goals. For more information please take a look at our FAQs, fill out our request for information form and a member of our Admissions Team will be in touch about your chosen programme.
- KENNEDY, JF (UNKNOWN) Critical thinking is necessary (Online) Available at: <https://www.changefactory.com.au/our-thinking/articles/critical-thinking-necessary/> [Accessed 08.07.20]
- GOOGLE TRENDS (2020) Search term = ‘online courses’, worldwide, all time (Online) Available at: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=online%20course
- O’BRIAN, S (2020) CORONAVIRUS: ‘MILLIONS OF ADULTS ARE REEVALUATING THEIR CAREERS’ – ARE YOU? (Online) Available at: <https://palife.co.uk/news/coronavirus-millions-of-adults-are-reevaluating-their-careers-are-you/> [Accessed 08.07.20]
- SP GLOBAL (2020) COVID-19 Shakes Up the Future of Work (Online) Available at: <http://press.spglobal.com/2020-06-18-COVID-19-Shakes-Up-the-Future-of-Work> [Accessed 08.07.20]
- GALLAGHER, S (2019) Average commute now takes 59 minutes with workers travelling longer than ever before (Online) Available at: <https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/average-commute-time-59-minutes-record-work-tuc-a9204031.html> [Accessed 08.07.20]
- ROBSON, D (2020) Online learning: how to acquire new skills during lockdown (Online) Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/apr/19/online-learning-how-to-acquire-new-skills-during-lockdown> [Accessed 08.07.20]