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Online vs on campus study: which is right for you?

For many international students, studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit exciting new places, experience new cultures, and gain a world-class education.

However, traveling across the world to attend your dream university isn’t always possible, and recent global events have made it even more difficult.

Universities around the world are starting to offer more and more flexible programs, which means you could now even get a degree from a top foreign university without leaving your home country.

Whether you choose the full on-campus university experience, remote learning online at home, or a mixture of the two, is up to you and your circumstances. Here are some of the pros and cons of each delivery method to help you decide.

What is on-campus learning?

Learning on-campus is what most international students dream about when they start planning to study abroad.

It’s the default study option for the majority of universities and involves attending lectures in person, spending face-to-face time with professors, and often living on campus in halls of residence.

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Advantages of on-campus learning

Some of the main advantages of studying on campus are:

  • Close and regular contact with professors
  • Full access to campus facilities like libraries, computer labs, etc
  • In-person interaction and discussion with fellow students
  • More opportunities to socialize and make new friends
  • Greater choice of degree programs
  • A structured timetable of classes
  • Wider variety of learning methods, e.g. practical classes, lab work, group sessions

Disadvantages of on-campus learning

Here are some of the downsides to studying on campus:

  • Rigid study structure means less flexibility to fit your studies around your life
  • It is often the most expensive delivery method
  • Living away from home can cause culture shock and homesickness
  • Regular travel to and from class
  • University location may be inaccessible due to travel restrictions

What is online learning?

Online degree programs are becoming increasingly popular among students and universities alike. Improvements in global communication technology have smashed down many of the barriers to global education, opening up opportunities to students from all over the world.

By studying online, all your lectures, workshops, and seminars will take place virtually. You’ll be able to access learning materials and notes and submit your assignments online. This means you could gain a university degree without even having to leave your home.

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Advantages of online learning

The biggest advantages of choosing an online degree include:

  • Getting a world-class education without leaving your home
  • Tuition fees are usually lower than campus-based programs
  • Flexibility to learn when you want and plan your studies around your life
  • You can create a working and learning environment that works for you
  • Access to universities you might not be able to attend in person
  • It demonstrates self-motivation and time management to employers

Disadvantages of online learning

Here are some of the downsides of taking an online university degree:

  • No face-to-face contact with professors
  • Can cause social isolation and loneliness
  • Online programs often lack practical classes
  • Programs available online can be limited
  • You won’t have access to campus facilities
  • You will need access to broadband and computer software

What is blended learning?

Blended learning aims to combine the best bits of on-campus and online learning to give you the best of both worlds.

A blended learning program will include a mixture of face-to-face classes and online e-learning that you can plan around your personal life. The use of technology is central, both in and out of the classroom, and the in-person and online learning should complement each other to create an integrated learning environment.

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Advantages of blended learning

The main benefits of choosing a blended learning degree program include:

  • Flexibility to fit your studies around work or family commitments
  • In-person access to tutors and professors
  • Variety of learning methods
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Interact and learn with fellow students online and in-person
  • Tuition can be cheaper than on-campus programs

Disadvantages of blended learning

Some of the drawbacks of blended learning are:

  • As an international student, you would need to travel abroad to study
  • There are a limited number of blended learning programs available
  • They require you to have strong technological literacy and access to broadband
  • They don’t offer the full flexibility of online learning

Which option is right for you?

The decision of which learning method you should choose comes down to your own circumstances and expectations.

If your international study dream revolves around the idea of living and learning on campus, meeting new people, and embracing a new way of life, online learning is perhaps not the option for you.

If your sole aim is to achieve a top-class degree from a quality international university, or if the cost of traveling and living abroad is too much, an online degree could be the answer.

Take the time to consider your options and think about the following things to help you make a decision:

  • Your personal study abroad expectations
  • Your budget for studying abroad
  • What program you want to study
  • Your work and family commitments
  • Your employment plans after you graduate

If you’re still unsure which path to take, speak to one of our expert advisors. They can help talk you through your options and come to the right decision for you.