How women are leading the way when it comes to distance learning

Article by Samantha Rutter, CEO, Open Study College

woman wearing headphones and studyingI was 19 when I founded Open Study College with my father Mark Rutter, more than 14 years ago.

We identified a gap in the market for fully-supported distance learning; since then the business has gone from strength to strength, and today offers the largest selection of distance learning courses in the market. Since 2007, over 100,000 students have enrolled with us and improved their lives.

At OSC we’re passionate about inclusivity; we believe that everyone should have access to education. A key trend, however, is that women are leading the way – and by a large margin – when it comes to taking up distance learning courses. Each quarter, we capture and analyse our student enrolment figures and data suggests that 80% of our students are female. In fact, it was this data which sparked a recent nationwide survey-led campaign investigating why fewer men are choosing to study and encouraging more men to consider distance learning.

Some key findings from the survey we commissioned with One Poll included 24% of men admitting they have no drive and 43% of men sharing that they were unaware of the opportunities more qualifications would provide.

From speaking to our students, we understand there are many reasons why more women are investing in further education, one of which includes feeling more pressure than men to give themselves every advantage to progress in their careers, as they feel affected by the so-called ‘glass ceiling’. Women are also more likely to take career breaks and therefore feel they need further education to help them achieve their career goals.

Ensuring that we take on board feedback from our students is one of the most important aspects of my role as CEO – whether it’s hearing from a young or single mum juggling a million and one things in life but still wanting to grow academically; a business owner wanting to improve her knowledge and skills; a retiree studying to make sure she keeps her mind active; or even a brave woman deciding to embark on a whole new career path.

Here are just a few inspirational thoughts from female Open Study College learners that truly capture how women are leading the way when it comes to distance learning:

“For me, distance learning has changed everything. It made me realise that you can learn anything and everything at any age and if you work for it, you can make it in life. It shaped me as a person and made me see that everything is possible!”

Athina, 30

“For me, distance learning has changed everything. It made me realise that you can learn anything and everything at any age and if you work for it, you can make it in life. It shaped me as a person and made me see that everything is possible!”

Athina, 30

“I have young kids to look after, however, I feel I am not limited to working on my personal growth thanks to distance learning and really wanted to prove that I could still achieve and grow academically!”

Yesha, 39

“I have young kids to look after, however, I feel I am not limited to working on my personal growth thanks to distance learning and really wanted to prove that I could still achieve and grow academically!”

Yesha, 39

“I am 70, going on 29 years old. This is my tenth course with Open Study College and I hope there will be more. To retirees thinking about taking a course online, I would say go for it!”

Marilyn, 70

“I am 70, going on 29 years old. This is my tenth course with Open Study College and I hope there will be more. To retirees thinking about taking a course online, I would say go for it!”

Marilyn, 70

“Distance learning allowed me to work flexibly around my work and social schedule and the outcome of knowing you achieved something independently is highly rewarding.

Jasmine, 24

“Distance learning allowed me to work flexibly around my work and social schedule and the outcome of knowing you achieved something independently is highly rewarding.

Jasmine, 24

“Distance learning gives me the freedom to learn whilst being a mother. It gives me confidence that I can build my future.”

Hayley, 30

“Distance learning gives me the freedom to learn whilst being a mother. It gives me confidence that I can build my future.”

Hayley, 30

Many females come to us to learn because they aren’t fulfilled in their current job, or have personal reasons which impact how they can study. We feel fortunate to have helped a lot of incredibly inspiring women through some really tricky times in their lives by giving them something else to focus on. That’s what gives me the motivation to keep doing what we do.

I’ve personally been faced with some adversity when building my own business, and I still think to this day it’s because I’m a woman. That, and the fact that I was 19 when I started the business with my dad. It’s because of this that I like to keep reminding myself I’m proof that no matter what gender, or age you are, you can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you have the passion and excitement for what you’re doing you’ll succeed!

About the author

Samantha RutterSamantha, aged 31 and from the West Midlands, founded Open Study College, a distance learning provider, with her father over 12 years ago.

CEO since the age of 29, she heads up a skilled and diverse team of 42, encompassing academic specialists, web developers and customer service operatives. Working with a network of specialist tutors, they deliver flexible learning which has helped thousands of people to improve their career prospects through distance learning.

Samantha has always been passionate about championing women in the workplace and supporting them in achieving their full professional potential. At Open Study College, women make up 65% of the workforce with 50% of the senior management team being female. Samantha has also won a number of accolades, including Most Influential Woman in E-learning 2018 and Influential Women in Business Award 2017, amongst many others.

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