The market for distance education programs can be divided into three segments: K-12 Learning and Higher Education Learning. In today’s world, “distance learning” includes online learning, flexible learning, blended learning, and eLearning. Analysts estimate that the global market for distance learning was US$90 billion in 2012. Analysts predict that the market will reach US$ 220 billion by 2017. In this case, the market share of each segment would be K12: 27%; Higher Education: 58%; and Corporate: 15%.
Global Market Leaders
Online courses are offered mainly by the best online universities in the Higher Education segment. One of the most prominent providers of distance education programs for European students is the Open University of London. The University of Phoenix and Harvard Extension School are two of the most well-known universities in the United States for their wide variety of distance education programs. These programs can be delivered via video, live web conference, or hybrid (a mix of online and on-campus delivery models). Currently, more than 70% of global distance learning is accounted for by the U.S. and Europe.
Worldwide Growth Trends
Research firms are positive about the future prospects of distance learning. It is predicted that nearly half of all classes will be offered online by 2019. Positive signs point to an expanding global market for distance learning programs due to the rapid growth of internet technology and ongoing academic revolutions. Study Portals’ 2013 market survey reveals that this growth was foreseen. According to their study of the demand for distance education worldwide, seven continents showed interest in adopting distance education programs into their educational systems. The most interest is in Europe, which has 45%. Asia and Africa have 25% and 13% respectively.
Over the past few years, Asia has seen a significant increase in the use of distance education programs. This includes India, China, and Pakistan as well as South Korea and South Korea. In 2014, the market for distance learning in India was estimated at US$20 Billion. China’s online education market revenue is estimated to have reached approximately US$13 million in 2013. Asia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students due to the availability of affordable online colleges and universities in the region.
The Open University of China, Korea National Open University(KNOU), Open University of Malaysia, Open University of Malaysia, Allama Iqbal Open University(AIOU), ASEAN Cyber University), Asia e University Indira Gandhi Open University [IGNOU], Indonesia Open University, and University of the Philippines Open University[UPOU] are some of the top online universities offering distance learning programs in Asia.
Many analysts believe that the African market for distance learning programs remains in its infancy. Distance education has been taught mostly at the elementary education level for the past two decades. Although there are more public and private institutions offering distance education programs, the current information and communication technology is not sufficient to meet the growing demand for African distance education.
The three most well-known universities that offer distance learning programs in Africa, including the University of South Africa (UNISA), African Virtual University (AUV), and the National Open University of Nigeria, are all part of the higher education sector. Hanover Research found that less than half of African students were enrolled in higher education in 2011. In the years that followed, however, there was a noticeable increase in tertiary enrollments in the region due to the rise in virtual campuses. Analysts are hopeful that the region’s market for distance learning programs will continue to grow with the continued collaborative efforts of international and local agencies, including the South African Council on Higher Education, African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), UNESCO, and national governments across Africa.
Distance education programs play an increasingly important role in improving education quality in many countries. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which were introduced in 2012, saw more online universities, eLearning schools, distance learning providers, and top colleges and universities join this dynamic education market. The United States, Australia, China, India, and South Korea are just a few of the countries that are leading the charge in distance education. These countries have a growing number of online students. It is estimated that around 19 million students are enrolled in online courses at higher education institutions in the world today.