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Pros and Cons of Online Learning

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International travel, and especially studying abroad at university has become a trickier process for international students all over the world. Complicated visa rules, covid vaccination policies and increasingly expensive air travel are some of the major reasons why many international students in regions such as Asia and Africa are re-considering the idea of studying at world-class universities abroad.

Thankfully, many of the world’s universities have come up with an innovative solution to these issues by offering a large selection of courses as online modules which you can study from the comfort of your home. This method of study, known popularly as distance or online learning, has been used by nearly 500 million international students since the start of the covid pandemic in 2020!

But just because you can now take many classes without needing to be present on campus at a world-class university, this does not always mean that in-person learning is no longer desirable or right for everyone. While the rise of high-end video software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams makes online learning a very simple and straightforward process, there are many aspects of in-person learning which you will not be able to benefit from as a online learning student. So how exactly does online learning work and what does it cost? And what are the advantages of online learning as opposed to regular on-campus learning?

Take a look at our Online Learning directory to see what courses are available online.

How Does Online Learning Work?

As of today, online learning is offered to international students in two ways – Synchronous and Asynchronous. Synchronous means ‘at the same time’, and this method requires live communication online because you attend lectures at the same time as students from all over the world, just like you would at an on-campus class.

Asynchronous classes, meanwhile, involve international students receiving weekly deadlines for completing assignments and watching pre-recorded lectures which you can complete at your own pace, usually within a time period of a few weeks or months. Most international students and professors prefer asynchronous online learning because it provides the flexibility to complete assignments at your own speed and learn the skill of time management.

How Much Does Online Learning Cost?

It is important to identify the universities whose online learning courses you are interested in. This is because the tuition fees for online learning degrees can vary according to multiple factors, such as the university being public or private, if the degree programme requires complicated software, and which country the university is located in.

In most cases online learning degrees are offered at much more affordable prices than on-campus degrees. This is because the university does not need to arrange classroom spaces, pay for professors’ travel, and other costs when you are learning from home over the computer as an international student.

Additionally, you can make considerable cost savings by not needing to pay rent, food and transport expenses and plenty of other living expenses that you would need to pay for an on-campus degree.

Most online learning degrees cost between 1,500 and 2,500 US Dollars per year for international students. Some universities, especially those in the UK and USA, offer online learning degrees at much higher tuition fees of up to 10,000-12,000 US Dollars per year. But there are also many universities which offer online learning degrees at minimal costs of just 200-400 US Dollars per year.

Pros of Online Learning


As an international student pursuing online learning courses from anywhere in the world, you will enjoy great flexibility in terms of deciding your daily schedule and routine. This is because with online learning degrees, especially asynchronous courses, you can choose when you want to study during the day and spend the rest of your time doing whatever you want, such as pursuing a hobby or going to work. This is a huge benefit for international students over on-campus learning, where you must follow a strict course schedule and often do not have time in the day for any other activity.


As mentioned, international students enjoy massive cost savings on expenses such as rent, food expenses and transport expenses when they pursue a online learning course. This is because you can pursue online courses, even those offered by the world’s highest ranked universities, from the comfort of your home and in your own country. Additionally, the large differences in tuition fees between online and on-campus courses mean that you normally receive a discount when you pursue a online learning course. What’s more, you can even offset any tuition and living expenses by working around your study schedule!

Easy Access

With online learning degrees, you no longer need to worry about submitting paperwork for a student visa or other documents required to pursue an on-campus degree in most of the world’s universities. You now have access to some of the world’s leading professors and academic programs, right in your own home!

Cons of Online Learning

Fewer Interactions with Professors and Classmates

One of the major disadvantages of online learning degrees is that you will not be able to socialise with your classmates or learn from your professors outside the classroom as you can in an on-campus degree program. Studies say that this aspect of socialising with peers, taking part in student-run clubs on campus and interacting with professors is key to excellent academic performance and personal growth for international students.

No Opportunities for Advanced Research

Universities around the world offer world-class advanced research facilities such as laboratories with experienced professors and super-expensive equipment, especially in scientific fields. But you will find it more challenging to take part in such advanced research and grow your professional skills in your chosen scientific field if you are pursuing online learning courses. This lack of experience with research methods and equipment can be a disadvantage when you apply for jobs after graduation.

Loss of Focus

Last but not least, studying all by yourself as an international student at home in a self-paced manner with online courses can cause you to easily lose focus on your academic responsibilities and get distracted. This can mean a delay in completing your degree and a possible downturn in your academic performance. If you are someone who is easily distracted and loses focus, online learning courses at home may not be the best option for you as an international student.

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