The Market for Distance Learning Programs

The market for distance learning programs is divided into three segments namely K-12 Learning, Higher Education Learning and Corporate Learning. It should be clear that ‘distance learning’ in today’s practice includes online learning, e-learning, flexible learning and blended learning. In 2012, analysts estimated the market for distance learning at 90 billion US dollars. It is projected to reach $220 billion by 2017, with the corresponding market share of the three segments being as follows: K12: 27%, Higher Education: 58%, Enterprise: 15%.

world market leader

In the higher education segment, online courses are mainly offered by top online universities around the world. One of the pioneers of distance learning, the Open University in London is currently one of the largest providers of distance learning programs for local and international students in Europe. In the United States, Harvard Extension School and the University of Phoenix are known for offering a wide range of distance learning programs. These programs are delivered in the form of video, live web conferencing, and hybrid (combination of on-campus and online delivery models). Currently, the US and European markets account for more than 70% of the global distance learning industry.

Global growth trends

Research firms are optimistic about the future of distance learning. There are forecasts that by 2019 almost half of all courses worldwide will be held over the Internet. The rapid rise of internet technology and the ongoing academic revolutions are positive signs that the global distance learning program market will continue to grow. In fact, this projected growth is evident in the market study conducted by Study Portals in 2013. Based on their survey of global demand for distance learning, all seven continents are showing interest in incorporating distance learning programs into their education systems. Significantly, Europe has the greatest interest at 45%, followed by Asia and Africa at 25% and 13% respectively.

Asian market

In Asia, the introduction of distance learning programs in recent years has been significant in India, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia. The market size of distance learning in India alone was estimated at US$20 billion in 2014. Online education market revenue in China is estimated to have reached about US$13 billion in 2013. With the presence of online universities and colleges offering online courses with affordable tuition fees in the region, Asia is also becoming a popular study destination for many international students.

Some of the most reputable online universities offering distance learning programs in Asia are Open University of China (OUC), Korea National Open University (KNOU), Open University of Malaysia (OUM), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and the ASEAN Cyber ​​University, Asia e University, Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU), Indonesia Open University and University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU).

African market

For many analysts, the market for distance learning programs in Africa is still in the development stage. For the past two decades, distance learning programs have been taught mainly at the basic education level. Despite the increasing number of public and private institutions offering distance learning, existing information and communication technology is still insufficient to meet the enormous and rapidly growing demand for distance learning in Africa.

In higher education, the three well-known online universities offering distance learning programs in Africa are the University of South Africa (UNISA), the African Virtual University and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). In 2011 Hanover Research estimated that less than 45% of students in Africa are enrolled in higher education. But with the advent of more virtual campuses, a significant increase in tertiary enrollment was observed in the region in subsequent years. And with ongoing collaborative efforts from local and international authorities, most notably the South African Council for Higher Education, the African Council for Distance Learning (ACDE), UNESCO and national governments across Africa, analysts are optimistic that the market for distance learning programs in the region is growing able to meet demand in the coming years.

Distance learning programs are now playing a significant role in improving the quality of education systems in many countries around the world on a larger scale. With the launch of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2012, more online universities, eLearning schools, distance learning providers, and top colleges and universities joined this dynamic education market. The United States, United Kingdom, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia and Africa are among the nations now leading the way in distance learning. Enrollments for online courses in these countries are increasing. It is estimated that around 19 million students are enrolled in online courses at universities worldwide today.

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Thanks to Paul B Hata

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