There are many reasons for choosing distance learning. For many people it provides the opportunity to combine study with family responsibilities and work commitments. It is ideal for those who have to travel - but also for those who cannot travel at all. Most people who choose distance learning do so because it is both flexible and affordable. The University of London's External Programme offers over 50 postgraduate degrees and diplomas, as well as more than 30 qualifications at undergraduate level. You work at your own pace and can study anytime, anywhere. Points to consider when choosing a course The reputation of an educational institution is an important factor. It gives a good indication of the quality of the course, materials and final qualification you can expect to receive. It may also influence the recognition that your qualification receives from governments, professional bodies and other educational institutions. When choosing a course, cost & convenience will be important factors, but the most important questions should be about the quality of the teaching & learning. Make sure that you are clear about what the course will cover, how it operates, what will be expected of you and how it will support your personal or career development. Find out the answers to the following questions: What qualification will I receive? Is this recognised by relevant employers or professional associations? What are the admission requirements? What are the main aims of the course? How is it taught, and who are the teachers? What course materials are provided? What support is available from the institution and/or locally? How is it assessed? Who is responsible for setting and marking the exams? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Sample of professional distance learning universities: - Cornell University - University of Wisconsin Madison - University of Cambridge Kipp - University of Oxford - University of Tokyo - University of Arizona - Georgia Institute of Technology Any competent course provider should offer clear answers to these questions in its prospectuses or other course information.