Are University of Essex Online degrees recognised?


14th Oct 2016


Online study

A common concern for those researching an online course or degree is whether or not the qualification is ‘real’.

With the internet flooded with so-called ‘diploma mills’ and the illegal market for fake certifications, it’s not surprising that potential students are still often wary of online courses.

This confusion is also made worse by the rise and then decline in popularity of MOOCs (massive open online courses). These programmes have unlimited participation and are open access. However, although they are extremely valuable for gaining broad knowledge of a subject, they very rarely lead to a degree from an accredited institution and have been criticised for their reliance on user-generated content and student self-regulation.

Here at University of Essex Online, our Admissions team are often asked whether our degrees are really ‘legitimate’ degrees. Here’s the answer we give…


Independent verification

Independent verification of our institution can be found on numerous sites, starting first with our listing on the departments section of the University of Essex website.

University of Essex Online courses are delivered by Kaplan Open Learning; we’re an experienced online learning provider and our partnership with the University of Essex has been in place since 2007. All of our graduates receive a degree from the University of Essex, and there is no mention of online study on the degree certificate. The mode of study is only mentioned in the transcripts that accompany a student’s final grades.


Our QAA outcome

We have undergone a review for educational oversight by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and have received our final report, which is available in full.


Our National Student Survey (NSS) result

The National Student Survey (NSS) 2017, a high-profile census completed by over final-year UK undergraduate students, has also awarded University of Essex Online a score of 93% for overall student satisfaction. This independent survey is conducted by HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) and measures various aspects of each course through multiple-choice questions and student comments. Since 2005, over 2.5 million students have taken part, encompassing a total of 358 universities, colleges and alternative providers. You can read more about our fantastic 2017 result here.



Independent statistics on our institution can also be found in numerous other locations. HEFCE lists Kaplan Open Learning (Essex) Ltd. as a “Register of HE providers” and describes how we are required to ‘demonstrate financial sustainability’, ‘have regular quality reviews’, ‘provide certain information on its students and performance’ and ‘ensure student complaints can be reviewed independently’  among many other quality responsibilities. You can read our listing here.

The UK government website Unistats also lists Kaplan Open Learning (Essex) Limited as ‘meeting expectations for quality and standards as defined by the Teaching Excellence Framework’. You can learn more about this here.


The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

And finally, University of Essex Online has achieved a gold rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that University of Essex Online delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The TEF Panel reviewed the provider metrics and provider submission according to the process and criteria specified in the TEF guidance.
The provider metrics supplemented by the submission indicate that students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes. In particular the Panel noted that part-time student satisfaction with teaching and continuation are above the provider’s benchmark and that satisfaction with assessment and feedback and academic support are exceptionally high and above benchmark. Progression to employment, highly skilled employment or further study are consistent with the provider’s benchmarks.

Learn more about our excellent result, and read our statement of findings here.


So, in summary, you have nothing to fear when you decide to study for a University of Essex Online degree; our online and part-time courses are just an alternative way for those with work and family commitments to achieve a recognised undergraduate or postgraduate qualification.

Inspired to start studying online? Download our prospectus today