UK Boasts Best Access to E-Learning Around The World

Digital learning platform Preply has published a study that examines the technological infrastructure and accessibility in 30 countries worldwide. The state of digital infrastructure, the number of digital educational courses, and the market for e-learning were all analysed to uncover the countries best prepared for a shift to online learning. The study found:

  • 91.7% of students in the UK have access to a computer at home
  • The UK has 4281 online education courses, more than France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands combined
  • The UK ranks fourth for government spending on education per pupil, at 38% of GDP per capita

School closures as a result of coronavirus exacerbated weaknesses in the UK’s digital infrastructure. This study compares the digital infrastructure in the UK with other countries worldwide to identify necessary areas for development. Pertinent data was analysed on the state of the nation’s digital infrastructure, digital educational offerings, and the e-learning market to give a comprehensive overview of multiple factors that influence access to e-learning.

“We are convinced that e-learning has a great potential to improve educational opportunities worldwide,” says Kirill Bigai, CEO of Preply. “The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that access to digital education is unequally distributed, but that there are ample opportunities to begin investing in the digital infrastructure necessary for a national shift to online learning. This study aims to uncover the extent to which all learners have access to adequate digital tools and resources.”

The United Kingdom ranks 16th place overall and first place in the index for accessibility to online education, with 91.7% of students having access to computers from home. It also has 4281 distance learning courses, by far the highest in Europe. By comparison, Germany has just 220 and Spain 260. However, the UK ranks average in the index for hourly salaries offered to tutors, at £14.60 per hour, compared to £26.56 an hour in Denmark and £17.17 an hour in France. The UK is pulled drastically down in the ranking due to its broadband and mobile download speeds. Broadband speed, for example, stands at 67.2 Mbit/s in the UK, while France, Spain and Canada, boast internet speeds more than twice as fast.

Top 16 countries with the best conditions for e-learning, with selected factors


Country Access to Computers Internet-Speed Broadband Tutoring per hour


1 Norway 94.9% 127.2 Mbit/s £20.35 100.0
2 Denmark 93.1% 141.7 Mbit/s £26.56 99.4
3 Switzerland 90.3% 155.9 Mbit/s £26.33 95.4
4 Luxemburg 95.4% 114.3 Mbit/s £22.60 94.4
5 Netherlands 97.6% 112.8 Mbit/s £16.26 84.8
6 Sweden 92.8% 141.7 Mbit/s £15.26 79.0
7 Austria 85.4% 56.5 Mbit/s £18.07 75.8
8 New Zealand 80.0% 114.8 Mbit/s £15.15 73.8
9 Finland 93.5% 91.9 Mbit/s £17.17 71.0
10 Australia 82.4% 45.9 Mbit/s £16.47 67.7
11 Canada 85.6% 123.3 Mbit/s £14.77 66.5
12 United States 72.0% 138.0 Mbit/s £14.25 61.1
13 Germany 92.9% 91.3 Mbit/s £9.94 60.8
14 France 84.1% 135.2 Mbit/s £17.17 57.3
15 Hungary 79.7% 131.2 Mbit/s £6.48 52.7
16 United Kingdom 91.7% 67.2 Mbit/s £14.60 51.9


  • Mexico offers the worst conditions for e-learning offerings. Only 44.3% of Mexicans have private computer access, and slow internet makes real-time collaboration impossible
  • The United States offers 9,303 online degree programs and courses that can be taken entirely online, while also providing the greatest variety of digital educational opportunities
  • Canada offers the best value for money when it comes to internet access. In addition, the Canadian government invests around 31% of GDP per capita in tertiary education
  • Internal data from Preply reveals that the biggest market growth last year was in Portugal
  • Japan ranks surprisingly poorly, in 26th place. The technologically advanced country offers a rich market for e-learning offerings, but sluggish Internet and inadequate digital educational opportunities are holding back the potential for e-learning