Posted at 04:13 pm

An American eLearner In London

UK & USA Flags - Dot Matrix If you're American, then when you think of earning a degree online, you realize that you can do so from anywhere but probably primarily consider programs offered by universities in the U.S. It's not surprising if this is the case. You may not know what the process is to get degrees from foreign universities recognized in the U.S., you may think that potential employers will think that it's "weird" that you have a degree from a university in a country where you haven't lived, and so forth. Besides, most people find what they're looking for without crossing the border, and if you're one of them, then there's nothing wrong with that at all.

If, however, you're an American willing to consider universities further afield, you're in much stronger company than you used to be. In fact, nowadays over 43,000 Americans are in the process of earning degrees from foreign universities. It's not clear from the report how many of those actually travel abroad and how many simply cross the ocean virtually from the convenience of their own living room, but the degree earned is the same, so the principle is as well.

Either way, one of the most popular destinations, real or virtual, for Americans learning from foreign institutions are British universities. And their schools aren't just popular with Americans, but have gained customers from all over the world:

According to statistics published last week, the number of people studying outside Britain for a complete British higher education qualification rose by 23 percent last year and now equates to one-sixth of all students taking British degrees. Such courses are typically cheaper than those delivered in Britain and allow students to stay closer to home while avoiding the country's visa regime. According to the figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 503,795 students at British institutions "studied wholly overseas" in 2010-11, up sharply from 408,685 in 2009-10 and 388,135 in 2008-09.

That's right, at this point over half a million people at any given time are studying for degrees from British universities through distance learning without going to the UK. And it's not surprising that their programs have become popular. They're often much less expensive — students in England rioted last year over the prospect of a rise in tuition to rates that would still seem like a relief to many American students. Their system of higher education is very well regarded internationally, for example being the only country other than the U.S. with universities that make most lists of the top ten in the world.

Perhaps most importantly, British universities will actually go after American students, something that universities in other countries rarely attempt. For example, the world class University of Liverpool is a partner with us here at eLearners, in part to help them promote themselves to American students. If that sort of thing isn't for you, then fair enough. But if you want to consider all your options, you may want to look across the pond as well as here at home.

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