The number of distance education students in the University of North Carolina System has shot up more than 20 percent.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Thursday that more than 22,000 students were taking college courses online or at off-campus satellite sites last year. About 215,000 students attended UNC System schools in 2008 and distance education students are a rapidly growing group.
The jump could reflect the economy as people shift careers or try make themselves more marketable. More that 60 percent of the system's distance education students are age 25 or older.
The UNC System introduced its University of North Carolina Online program last year. It offers at least 130 degrees, licensure and certification programs at public universities.