Home Online and residential intensives: Perspectives and experiences of Diplôme D’études Supérieures en Leadership Humanitaire (DESLH) graduates

This report presents the main findings from a comparative study of the online and residential intensives of the Diplôme d’Études Supérieures en Leadership Humanitaire (DESLH).

The aim is to understand the comparative benefits and challenges of each modality, to inform course review and ensure the optimal delivery for future cohorts, including for different groups of students whose needs and experiences may differ.

We have to recognise that online training has the advantage of enabling people who can’t be there and travel, or who can’t have time off, to still keep in touch with their studies.


Report structure

Chapter 2 presents a literature review of the evidence on teaching and learning, focusing both on core findings but also emerging evidence since the pandemic. Chapter 3 compares key quality indicators derived from the online and residential delivery of the Unit 4 intensive—such as student success rates, satisfaction, and engagement—focusing primarily on Cohort 6. Chapter 4 then investigates students’ perceptions and preferences for online and residential delivery, drawing on a wider range of DESLH graduates. Key conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapters 5 and 6.

Key findings

Key quality indicators used in higher education evaluation indicate that the online and residential intensives are providing equivalent learning experiences for students of the DESLH. Student satisfaction, for instance, is high for both the online and residential intensives. Students also achieved comparable learning outcomes and success rates through online and residential intensives, including for men and women.

Conclusion and next steps

In terms of quality learning, online and residential intensives provide equivalent learning experiences for students of the DESLH against most of the key indicators of quality. What matters is not modality, but how the curriculum is designed and delivered.

Student engagement is the one quality indicator which does indicate that online students report struggling compared to residential intensive experiences. Distractions—such as competing work demands, child-caring responsibilities, and domestic duties—can interfere with students’ ability to concentrate exclusively on their online learning.

Online delivery works best under optimal conditions, with students who have the time, space,
and freedom from competing demands to engage with the learning setting. While students who have prior behavioural and contextual risk factors that make maintaining engagement more challenging— such as high work-loads, additional household chores, or caring responsibilities—are at greater risk of experiencing difficulties with their learning, regardless of modality, it is possible that such factors will have greater adverse impact on students studying online.


Academic contributors

Partner organisations


  • DESLH Online and Residential Intensives