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September 23, 2021 • 1 minute read
By: Rick Johnson

Around the world, more students than ever before are reliant upon digital learning tools and eTexts in order to continue their education.

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Blog > Access Isn’t Just Convenient, It’s Imperative

September, 30, 2021 . 1 minute read

Access Isn’t Just Convenient, It’s Imperative



Access within higher education should be easy, with reading lists assigned and students having the required materials in time for term start. However, with so many available options, students are often overwhelmed by the course materials market.   

These variables bring a raft of other factors into play: affordability, ease of access to learning opportunities, and consistency of experiences both online and offline. Solutions to access must address all of these issues. 

While students spend most of their lives online, COVID-19 has added an extra layer of complexity to this already challenging situation, exposing the need for solutions that are not only more affordable but also more accessible—both online and fully offline—for students that don’t have reliable internet access.  

According to survey data from the Office for Students in the UK, “During the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, 52 per cent of students said their learning was impacted by slow or unreliable internet connection, with 8 per cent ‘severely’ affected.” This digital divide disproportionately impacts those from low-income backgrounds, with only 51 percent of households earning between £6,000 and £10,000 having internet access at home, compared with 99 percent of those households with an income of over £40,000.

Similarly, in Australia, about 14 percent of households do not have access to the internet at home. “While only 3 percent of high-income households don't have access to the internet, this increases to 33 percent among the lowest income households and presents a major barrier and risk” for those learning remotely, with more than four million Australians accessing the internet solely through a mobile connection.

This trend can also be seen in Latin America and the Caribbean where the internet usage gap between the richest households and the poorest is nearly 40 percentage points. This means that offline access to learning materials is not only a convenient feature, it is imperative to student success and widening participation. 

At VitalSource, we understand we have a duty to help improve students’ access to learning experiences. We’ve focused on simplifying the process of finding, obtaining, and engaging with course materials, whilst ensuring students can access these materials without relying upon an internet connection. Content can be downloaded on multiple devices, including mobile phones, so students can continue to study anytime, anywhere. 

How can we continue to progress in access maturity? Take a moment to learn more about ways we’re working to solve the access problem and ensure students can seamlessly get the materials they need to be successful in the classroom. 

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