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Open Universities Australia: Growing demand for online courses

Meld Magazine

Sat Jan 26 2013


THE demand for online learning is burgeoning, with organisations like Open Universities Australia reporting a spike in enrolments, attracting students not just from Australia, but overseas.

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The first to market in the online education space, OUA has attracted more than 144,000 students from 189 countries since it opened its doors in 1993 – and in the past three years alone, student numbers have jumped by 27 per cent.

Outside of Australia, OUA courses have been especially popular with students from the UK, US, China, Singapore and Japan. Students have also come from as far afield as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Oman, Laos, Kazakstan and Kiribati.

The organisation prides itself in providing open and flexible online higher education, empowering students to develop their own personal study experience.

Owned and operated by seven universities, including Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University, and the University of South Australia, OUA also offers study units and qualifications from 13 other universities and tertiary providers such as Australian Catholic University, La Trobe University, the University of Western Australia, and Murdoch University.

Across the more than 20 leading universities, TAFEs and tertiary education providers nationwide, OUA offers access to more than 1400 units and 170 qualifications, and the areas of study broadly include the Arts & Humanities, Business, Education, Health, Information, Law & Justice, and Science & Engineering.

Perhaps what’s most unique about the OUA experience is that students aren’t bound to the one university. While students get to elect which university or tertiary education provider they would like to earn their qualification from, they have the flexibility to select study units from a variety of education providers and tailor their electives to suit their learning needs.

There are four study periods a year, and students can progress as slowly or quickly as they like. Students can choose to study alone, or interact with instructors and peers, participating in virtual reality simulations, blogs and webinars. Some courses also provide the opportunity to participate in face-to-face intensive workshops or group projects assessed by business or industry leaders.

And there is no “typical” student. Enrolment statistics from OUA show student ages vary from 13 to 94, with some students preferring to study only a single unit and others choosing to tackle a complete degree.

Probably the one thing that students, whether online or in physical classrooms, cannot escape, are exams.

Like traditional tertiary study, most OUA students undertake centrally organised, supervised exams conducted at a range of venues, with the exception of students with a disability or who live in remote areas who can organise to have supervised exams taken locally.

For more information about Open Universities Australia, and how you can plug into the wide variety of subjects and courses on offer across undergraduate, postgraduate and TAFE levels, visit or phone 1300156176. You can also connect with Open Universities Australia on Facebook and Twitter.