Where we've come from

From the very start, long before we were called Open Universities Australia (OUA), and even before the internet became a part of everyday life, our organisation has been all about making education easier to access.

A pioneer from the beginning

In 1990, the Australian Government established the Open Learning Initiative, a project aimed at extending access to and increasing participation in higher education, examining the potential of communication technologies for education and increasing public awareness of higher education.

The initiative launched in 1991 with the Television Open Learning Pilot, investigating the possibility of creating an educational television channel, hosted by Monash University, and supported by a consortium of Australian universities, as well as Australia's public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the ABC).

Although study via television may sound outdated now, it was at the time a pioneering venture (the first time Australian universities had delivered educational content nationally via television) and established a philosophy of innovation that still exists today.

Open Learning Australia

The launch of the pilot program was followed by the formation of Open Learning Australia in 1993, a publicly funded company with Monash University as its single shareholder. Also under the auspices of the Open Learning Initiative, the Open Learning Electronic Support Service (OLESS) was established in 1994, and Open Net in 1995. The goal of Open Net was to provide access to online learning services to all students, regardless of their location.

In 1997 the separate strands of the Open Learning Initiative were combined under the umbrella of Open Learning Australia (OLA).


In 1997 seven new shareholder universities gave their backing to OLA: Australian National University, Curtin University of Technology, Griffith University, Macquarie University, RMIT University, the University of Queensland, and the University of South Australia.

OLA's entry into the higher education landscape resulted in fewer bureaucratic procedures, more flexible study schedules for students and expansion into new study areas that hadn't previously been available via distance education such as science and art.

By 2000, with web presentation and data compression techniques advancing rapidly, OLA had begun to turn many of their courses from paper-based to online.

Open Universities Australia

Open Learning Australia became Open Universities Australia in 2004, reflecting the changing demands and expectations of its online students. Although our name changed, our role as pioneers in the online learning movement remained the same.

OUA began to incorporate new technologies and interactive multimedia, streaming media, and social media into its higher education offerings. These technologies allowed OUA to further minimise the isolation of online students, as well as harness the learning potential presented by changing technology.


OUA and its university providers continue to enjoy the benefits that come from the pioneering open learning legacy established more than two decades ago.

Since our foundation, OUA has helped more than 250,000 students with their education and career goals.

Find out more about working with us at our LinkedIn Careers page.