Who Graduates from Irish Distance University Education?

Lorraine Delaney
Dublin City University, Ireland


While there have been many studies on those who withdraw from distance education less is known about those who successfully complete degrees by distance education. Drawing on results from an online survey of recent distance graduates, this study, based in Dublin CityUniversity, addresses the gap in the research on this cohort of graduates. Findings indicate that graduates are primarily from lower socio economic backgrounds, a group largely under-represented in full-time university education. Significantly, a large percentage had never accessed any form of higher education before. More surprisingly, an equally large percentage had accessed full-time higher education previously, but at a lower level than the honours primary degree they obtained through distance learning. Implications regarding the role of distance education in both widening and deepening access to university education are discussed.

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