How did our attitudes towards online learning change in 2020? |

How did our attitudes towards online learning change in 2020?

By Niamh Ollerton

Updated July 28, 2022 Updated July 28, 2022

2020 will long be remembered as the year of the digital shift, as education, careers, and personal relationships all had to move into the virtual realm in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, few would have guessed that online learning would become a crucial component for educational delivery so quickly. At the start of 2021, many institutions across the globe must still use online learning to minimize health risks during the crisis.

Because of this, students and staff alike are evolving to adapt to the new learning environments and tools in this new age of education.

Students – both domestic and international – now need to decide whether this new form of educational experience is worthwhile for them.

The QS coronavirus survey asked prospective international students to reveal how interested they would be in studying their degree online.

Results remained relatively stable throughout the year, with the November survey finding approximately 60 percent of respondents expressed some level of interest in studying online.

Desire to study online

To understand whether online learning would be a deterrent to enrolling, respondents were asked whether they would be interested in starting their studies this year even if the beginning of the course was conducted online.

Answers for this question have remained consistent throughout the year, with 43 percent of respondents indicating that they were interested in starting their studies online. 11 percent were extremely interested, 9 percent were very interested, and 20 percent were somewhat interested.

Will length of online study affect student enrolment?

Prospective international students were asked whether they would consider enrolling if they knew online learning would be for a maximum of six months before they could begin face-to-face classes.

Positive responses fluctuated from 32 percent in May to 45 percent in September and 43 percent in November, suggesting many students see six months of online study as an acceptable compromise.

Interestingly the proportion of students who wouldn’t consider this fell substantially from 38 percent in May to 31 percent in November.

If their course would have to start online, the majority of prospective students did say that they would expect their tuition fees to be discounted. This demonstrates that although prospective international students are more open to studying online, they do not place the same monetary value on online learning as traditional face-to-face learning.

We noticed an increased demand for discounts for online tuition, rising from 76 percent in April to 84 percent in November. When asked how substantial a tuition fee discount should be, the majority of respondents chose between 21 percent to 50 percent.

However, only 12 percent of surveyed current international students were offered tuition fee discounts in September and 15 percent in October.

Moving forward, more institutions should try to engage with applicants on this topic, either explaining the need for fees to remain at their current level or showing more flexibility in what they charge students.

This article was originally published in January 2021 . It was last updated in July 2022

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