The Department of Education in New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has raised a large warning flag on the value of online degrees.
Starting soon, under proposed new rules for the Department, applicants for Department teaching positions who earned their education degrees in online programs will be sent to the back of the applicant line, behind those with degrees earned in actual classrooms.
That’s a big deal for two reasons.
First, NSW isn’t some backwater outpost. It’s home to Sydney and the largest state in Australia with more than 7.5 million people. The NSW Department of Education, teaches more than 780,000 students, directly funds education for an added 410,000 students and runs more than 2,200 schools. If it were domestic, the NSW school district would be the second-largest district in the United States – it’s larger than the L.A. Unified District in both number of students and schools.
Second, those who insist that online degrees are equal to in-class degrees, should be alarmed. Although, they should not be surprised. Studies and surveys have shown this before.
One 2013 academic research study, for example, started with a favorable hypothesis that, “There will be no significant difference between employer perceptions of graduates from online universities towards the concept of employability, credibility and educational modalities.”
Once the researchers actually asked hiring managers, though, they found that, “ … employers perceived a traditional or hybrid modality more credible than a purely online modality across multiple industries.” And when hypothetical job candidates were given matching qualifications save for the type of degree, they found, “Half of the respondents indicated the On-campus student would be hired … and 12.6% saying the Online student would be hired.”
A Gallup poll of that same year found that by a whopping 36 points (13% to 49%) the public said that online studies were worse at, “providing a degree that will be viewed positively by employers.”