UK adults are turning to online learning platforms to give themselves an edge as they strive to stay competitive in a fast-paced job market and juggle increasingly busy lifestyles.

Coursera, a leading online education provider that offers online courses from top universities around the world, reports that a rising interest in flexible, career-relevant education among adults in the UK has resulted in a considerable spike in new registrations on its platform of 50 per cent over the past 12 months. Data on Coursera’s over half a million UK learners show that they are studying consistently throughout the day and that almost a third (30 per cent) access courses on their smartphones, demonstrating that they prefer to take full advantage of the flexibility of the online learning format.

“Learning is not just an activity for the young anymore. Over 80 per cent of online learners on Coursera are over the age of 22,” said Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera and former President of Yale University. “The most active online learners are professionals, mums, and dads with many commitments, and a desire to proactively make a significant change to their lives.”

About half of enrollments from UK online learners are in career-boosting course categories such as business (18 per cent), computer science (16 per cent), and data science (13 per cent). Coursera’s most recent statistics highlight that many individuals are finding ways beyond the traditional education landscape to improve their career prospects. They are giving themselves a competitive edge in their careers or re-training for alternate career paths by equipping themselves with skills that are sought after by employers.

“The increase in UK registrations over the past year alone illustrates the transformation taking place across the UK education sector and workplace,” continued Levin. “Online courses are rapidly growing in reputation, and are being acknowledged as important and legitimate qualifications to help boost career progression. They provide accessible education across geographic boundaries and time zones, without compromising on teaching quality and credential recognition.”