“Do you get a ‘real’ degree?” and 5 other common concerns about online learning


10th Mar 2017


Online study


If you’ve never studied online before, it’s only natural to be cautious about the quality and authenticity of this new experience.

Here at University of Essex Online, we’re used to hearing these fears from potential students and we’d like to reassure you that there’s nothing to worry about. Here are our responses to the most common concerns students have about online learning…


“Do you get a ‘real’ degree?”

This is by far the most common concern we hear about our online degrees, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Although there are online outlets (known as ‘diploma mills’) where students can purchase fake degrees, the University of Essex Online is not one of these; we’ve undergone rigorous validation by independent and recognised professional bodies.

Our degrees are all validated by the University of Essex, and all of our graduates receive a University of Essex degree. Your degree certificate will not show that you studied online; the mode of study is only mentioned on the transcripts that accompany your final grades.

We have also undergone independent monitoring visits by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Finally, we also received a score of 95% for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2021, a high-profile census completed by final-year UK undergraduate students. This is higher than all mainstream UK universities, and well above the national average of 75%.

Want to learn more? Read our blog “Are University of Essex Online degrees recognised?


“What’s stopping students just buying their assignments online?”

An extremely common misconception of online learning is that it’s easy to cheat your way through the course by submitting work that isn’t genuine; this definitely isn’t the case here at University of Essex Online—we take cheating and plagiarism as seriously as any campus-based institution.

We employ the exact same methods that campus institutions use to detect and monitor every single submission that a student makes. This includes using the Turnitin plagiarism detection software to monitor assignments and if an entry is found to be in breach of our rules and regulations, procedures are in place to escalate the matter.

Want to learn more about plagiarism? Read our blog about what counts as plagiarism.


“Are the tutors experienced?”

Many prospective students are concerned that the tutors working for online institutions are simply paid to read from the textbook and don’t actually have any knowledge of the subject. This isn’t something you have to worry about at University of Essex Online; our tutors are all subject experts with many years’ experience in their chosen field.

They report into our academic heads of department, and each tutor is checked and approved before they teach a single pupil. Our tutors take great pride in teaching our online courses, and many even play an active role in developing new courses and modules. Meet our team of experienced tutors.


“Will an employer respect my online qualification?”

One of the main reasons that many students choose to study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree is the prospect of raising their salary or getting a promotion. And if employers don’t recognise and respect online degrees, this is potentially a real concern for students.

If this is what’s holding you back from applying for a course, we’ve got some good news for you; nowadays almost all employers will recognise the determination and commitment required to complete a degree online and part-time.

It’s true that in the past there was some stigma about online degrees but reports from recruiters as recently as 2016 state that “employers, generally speaking, are getting more inclined, more receptive to looking at people with online degrees – especially for experienced roles that they’re looking to fill”


“Will I receive any support?”

The days of receiving your course materials by post and being expected to study entirely alone are long gone. Our students receive all the support they need from their dedicated Student Support team. Once you’ve been accepted onto a course, a Student Adviser from your dedicated Student Support team will be in touch to welcome you, and you’ll be supported right the way through to graduation.

Student Advisers are there to provide pastoral support and care, offering advice and guidance on issues ranging from finance to family emergencies.

The team are also committed to answering emails and messages within 24 hours (excluding weekends and UK bank holidays), so you’ll never have to wait too long for a resolution to your problem.

Want to learn more? Read our blog about our student support.


“Will I get any tutor support or class discussion time?”

Personal relationships are so important when you’re learning a new subject; we all need to discuss ideas with classmates and to ask tutors for help at some point. If you don’t have an established relationship, it can be much harder to reach out and ask for support.

University of Essex Online students don’t need to worry though; our virtual learning environment allows classmates to socialise and discuss their course in forums. Students also have regular contact with tutors via live Q&A sessions, and they are also free to schedule one-to-one sessions to discuss individual concerns.

Learn all about our state-of-the-art virtual learning environment.


Ready to start studying online? Download our prospectus today.