Online courses are getting a boost in popularity

Students are increasingly turning to online courses to find a pathway to their career.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NCSEM) and the National Centre on Social and Health Statistics (NCHHS) have released a report showing that more than one-third of Australians aged 18-24 are now taking courses online.

“Online learning has been a key driver of this increase,” NCSEM director Mark Brierley said.

“The uptake in online learning has continued to accelerate in the past three years and is now up to one third of Australians age 18-34 are currently taking online courses.”

According to the report, there are now more than 12 million people enrolled in online courses, with nearly a quarter of students choosing to enroll in the first two years.

“As a result of the uptake of online learning, there is a need for more online course providers to offer a range of courses, which can be accessed from all over the world,” Dr Brierle said.”[Online courses] offer a much more flexible learning experience and are also an excellent way to build and sustain employment skills.”

He said there was a need to develop a range for all types of students.

“There is a huge demand for students with a wide range of interests and skills, but also those with a strong academic background and the ability to deliver on those strengths,” he said.

Dr Brierles survey also found that around 50 per cent of online students are taking courses at the same time as studying, while 15 per cent are taking more than 30 courses.

“A substantial proportion of this cohort of students are not currently enrolled in a degree programme, but may choose to take online courses as a means of continuing their education,” he added.

Dr Peter Smith, chief executive of the NCHHS, said the online education sector needed to expand and create opportunities for all.

“It’s a good time to be in the market, with an ageing population, and a shortage of graduates,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We need to make sure that all our graduates have a pathway for success and the future of our economy is tied to that.”