The Rise of Online Study and Distance Learning Around the World

Online study has seen huge growth over the past few years, as the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way we live, work, and study in societies around the world.

The radical transformations seen since 2020 show the sweeping changes the pandemic has delivered, as countries sought to ensure educational continuity in the face of this unprecedented global crisis. Digital platforms offered a remarkable opportunity to maintain this facility for students around the world.

This disruptive period has shown the innovation at the heart of the education industry, and amplified the importance of trusted providers like Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). SIM’s own e-learning programmes offer a welcome addition to this landscape, providing trusted, flexible online education that reflects the rise of online study and distance learning around the world.

Online learning is now an established part of education

COVID-19 was a spark that added to the rising demand for online study, turning a growing educational opportunity into one suddenly thrust into the forefront of learning.

This huge growth in demand seeks to leverage the many benefits of online learning, providing flexible, and accessible education for students regardless of their ability to attend a physical campus.

At the height of the pandemic, it’s estimated that over a billion pupils in over 180 countries[1] were out of school according to the World Bank. This number would rise even further when taking into account the pupils seeking, but unable to access learning at educational institutions like SIM.

These numbers make it clear why online education became so important—after all, education is a gateway to opportunities, whether that’s fundamental understanding of language and mathematics in schoolchildren, or valuable postgraduate education that unlocks new career opportunities.

Even before the pandemic, the global education technology landscape was on the rise. The market was valued at USD18.66bil in 2019, with pre-pandemic projections for meteoric growth to reach USD350bil by 2025[2] according to analysts Research and Markets. That figure is likely to be significantly higher in the wake of COVID-19.

There are more than five million internet users in Singapore representing 90% of the population[3], backed by 98% smartphone usage according to global marketing firm We Are Social. Singapore is a connected landscape set to benefit from these exciting new opportunities in online education.

Global growth of a mature distance learning landscape

There are a huge number of online programmes available today, driven by huge demand from students, academic institutions, and even businesses.

An estimated 77% of US corporations used some form of online learning in 2017, but 98% planned to incorporate it into their programme in 2020[4] according to data analyzed by e-learning platform Zeqr. In fact the corporate e-learning industry was expected to grow in value by 250% between 2017 to 2026[5] according to Research and Markets, as increasing numbers of businesses turn to online learning to train and upskill employees.

This huge demand for e-learning is echoed in countries around the world. Between 2007 and 2019, the number of British people who said they had taken an online programme rose from 4% to 17% according to Statista[6]. In Australia, more than 207 programmes are available from 23 universities, with more than 90%[7] of them from the postgraduate level according to education gateway

In the European Union (EU), a survey by European statistics agency Eurostat revealed that 27% of individuals undertook an online programme in 2021[8], with that share rising to a remarkable 46% in the Republic of Ireland, and 45% in both Finland and Sweden. E-learning is on the rise, driven by robust student demand and a growing recognition of the value these online programmes can offer.

SIM’s e-learning opportunities

These online learning opportunities also provide real benefits to students. SIM’s own 100% online e-learning programmes are designed to offer flexible, accessible education that can help power up your career, whether that’s a Graduate Diploma in Business Management (E-Learning) to enhance your leadership opportunities, or a Graduate Certificate in Analytics (E-Learning) to provide data-driven opportunities for the future.

E-learning is now an established offering at major global institutions such as Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University in the US, and the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge in the UK. In the UK alone, 76% of degree-granting institutions offered online programmes in the academic year 2016-2017[9] according to University of Birmingham Research.

The reality is online learning is no longer a niche area of education, but a thriving, exciting opportunity for students in Singapore and around the world. SIM’s 100% online programmes offer focused education to support your own educational aspirations.

With 6,270 Singaporean workers joining professional upskilling programmes in 2020[10] according to Statista, it’s clear the attraction of these flexible online programmes is going to continue to grow.

SIM has a wide range of programmes to support your own postgraduate education ambitions, helping you retrain and upskill to boost your career potential.

Graduate Diploma in Business Management (E-Learning)

16-month, part-time study

Develop yourself as a forward-looking leader of tomorrow.

Graduate Diploma in Data Science (E-Learning)

16-month, part-time study

Build data-driven understanding in the high-growth data science ecosystem.

Graduate Certificate in Analytics (E-Learning)

8-month, part-time study

Dive into the data and opportunity of the data analytics environment.

Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Management (E-Learning)

8-month, part-time study

Explore the exciting and high-demand world of cybersecurity management.

Graduate Certificate in Information Technology Management (E-Learning)

8-month, part-time study

Learn to manage a rapidly evolving IT landscape.

Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (E-Learning)

8-month, part-time study

Get to grips with the changing world of human resources in the modern business ecosystem.

Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing (E-Learning)

8-month, part-time study

Connect to a future of opportunity in the dynamic digital marketing arena.


Want to connect to your own opportunities through online study? Get in touch with SIM to discuss how our E-Learning programmes can power up your potential.



1 World Bank,
2 Research and Markets,
3 We Are Social Digital 2021: Singapore,
4 Reported in Small Biz Trends,
5 Research and Markets,
6 Statista, Share of individuals participating in online courses in Great Britain from 2007 to 2020 -
7 -
8 Eurostat,
9 University of Birmingham,
10 Statista,