Trend Study Distance Learning 2023

Distance learning as a model for success. What is important? What are the benefits?

Distance learning is worthwhile. Personally and professionally.

What are the benefits of distance learning? What is important? The 2023 distance learning trend study by IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) shows that distance learning offers many advantages. Despite all the pressures.

The main reason cited by almost a third of students for taking a distance learning course is to advance in their careers or to change careers. This puts professional development at the top of the list of priorities in the 2023 Distance Learning Trend Study. But lifelong learning and personal development are also cited as the main reason by more than a fifth of respondents. Fewer than one in seven primarily want to improve their chances on the job market.

Stressed, overwhelmed, overworked – distance learning triggers negative feelings as well as many positive ones. Positive emotions such as “satisfied” or “hopeful” have decreased, especially in comparison to the previous 2021 Distance Learning Trend Study. Negative feelings such as stress and overload, on the other hand, are more pronounced. This is partly also due to the multiple demands (e.g. family/job/studies). But despite all the pressures during distance learning, more than 9 out of 10 say that distance learning has been worthwhile for them.

Employers rarely support their distance learners. Most people finance their distance learning mainly through their own work. Fewer than one in ten report that their employer is providing or has provided the main funding. But this is not only due to the companies. Almost half of those who generally do not receive support from their employer do not want it either.

There is considerable interest in artificial intelligence (AI) in academic studies. Accordingly, many find it important that a university can offer them the use of AI tools. Advantages such as “Easy research”, “Facilitating learning progress”, “Learning support”, and “Organisation of appointments” are frequently mentioned as aspects that (could) make everyday learning easier.

The distance learning trend study not only surveys the opinions of students, but also those of graduates, those interested in distance learning and those who have dropped out. This provides a comprehensive view of distance learning.

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Four important takeaways:

Lifelong learning and personal development as a study objective.

21.6 % cite lifelong learning and personal development as the main reason for distance learning.


48.5 % state that they feel or have felt overworked during a distance learning course. 42.9 % feel / felt stressed. 93.5 % of respondents who associate negative feelings with studying nevertheless say that it was worth the effort.


6.7 % of respondents receive or have received funding for their studies, mainly from their employer.


42.9 % find it important that a university offers support through AI. Nevertheless, many respondents are still cautious or do not have a clear opinion on AI.

IU Trendstudie Fernstudium 2023 und Download

About this study:

  • Publication date: 21 February 2023

  • 6,751 Students, graduates, prospective students and college dropouts of a distance learning programme serveyed in Germany

  • Period of the survey: 10 October – 13 November 2022

More info on the IU study

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