Over 40pc of internet users in this country are using the internet to search for information on courses, classes and college research.
A spokesperson for the Learning Ireland website network – the group that managed the National Education Database – suggested that economic realities and the pursuit of learning for life have led to a spike in the demand for courses.
Quoting figures from the Joint National Internet Research (JNIR) report for the 12 months up to July 2008, interest in classes and courses has risen sharply because of economic uncertainty.
The JNIR data showed that some 3pc of Irish internet users have booked a course online in the past 12 months.
A further 22pc went on to book a course offline after conducting online research.
Of Learning Ireland’s user base, some 21pc bought a course online, while 38pc have gone on to book a course offline.
“The latest statistics reflect a nationwide increase in interest in upskilling in the face of economic downturn, with many people determined to enhance their skills base and level of education in order to make themselves more valuable to employers,” said Kevin Branigan, managing director of Learning Ireland.
The JNIR research also found that the total number of Irish adults over 15 years connecting to the internet now stands at 1.8 million people, or 51pc of all adults.
Some 35pc of all adults are connecting to the internet every day – bringing the total potential online audience of Ireland to 1.2 million.
Over 54pc of internet users have made at least one online purchase over the past month.
The most significant online purchases are flights (29pc), concert/cinema tickets (18pc), CDs (10pc), books and magazines (9pc), government services (8pc) and mobile phone top-ups (8pc).
By John Kennedy