Project 18

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Distance Learning

Distance Learning is remote study that doesn’t require the learner to be present face to face in lectures and seminars; these are generally broadcast over the internet and work is done by email.

This may be an option to consider if

  • Where you are basing yourself doesn’t have easy access to full time on site education
  • Where you are basing yourself doesn’t offer the course you are looking for
  • You are choosing to prioritise triathlon and want an academic programme that you can fit around it
  • You want to base yourself abroad but would like a British degree

Some considerations

  • It is very flexible – you have a lot of control over when and how much you study
  • You can be based where you like – in the UK or abroad (some courses may require you to be to be present for occasional residentials or similar)
  • It is generally considerably cheaper than a full time degree course
  • It could be more lonely, while you will have virtual seminars and tutorials you may miss out on the more social face to face aspects of a full time course
  • The motivation to study is entirely with you and drop out rates can be much higher than in full time education

Case Studies

Alistair Brownlee 

Double Olympic Champion studied for an MBA


Alistair has strong beliefs that having a non-sport related focus helps him to train and perform better and gives him better balance. After completing a degree (at Leeds University) he wanted a further academic challenge that was flexible enough to fit around his sport.

Did it work?

Yes – Alistair completed the course

Olly Freeman

Former World Cup medallist (in the days when that was the top tier of international triathlon racing) studied for an Open University degree in Computer Science.


As a World Junior Silver and 2 time European Junior Champion he had deferred a place indefinitely at Cambridge University to focus on triathlon and wanted to maintain a level of flexible academic study

Did it work?

Yes – Olly completed the degree course and enjoyed the subject so much when he did take his place at Cambridge he chose to change from Physical Sciences to Computer Science.

Watch and Listen

Listen to Birmingham Centre athlete Bethan Hinett talking about her plans to train in Australia while studying for an Open University degree.


Find out more

The Open University is highly regarded as a world leader in this area and offers numerous courses

The Complete University Guide hosts information and advice as does UCAS

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