Australia's first online higher education platform marks 25 years of making education accessible to all

This year Open Universities Australia (OUA) is celebrating a quarter of a century of delivering education to more than 350,000 students throughout Australia and from around the globe.

Originally part of the Keating Government’s ‘Creative Nation’ policy, OUA was formed as the Open Learning Agency of Australia Pty Ltd (OLAA) in 1993 as a private company owned solely by Monash University.

In 1996 Monash University invited six other universities to join the shareholding, also forming a partnership with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, with students tuning in to view lectures. The mission at the time of OUA’s inception remains the same as it is today—to make studying at university possible for everyone.

‘For 25 years we’ve stayed true to our core value that education has the power to transform lives and should be accessible to all,’ says OUA CEO, Stuart Elmslie.

‘More than a quarter of our students are from regional areas of Australia, the average age is 31, 20 per cent come from low socio-economic backgrounds and four percent are of Indigenous decent,’ Mr. Elmslie continues.

‘For us, this year is about celebrating our incredible and inspiring students, who for 25 years have been juggling study with their busy lives to achieve their goals and fulfil their dreams.’

The OUA marketplace is Australia’s destination for online higher education. With 170 degree programs and more than 1380 subjects from 12 leading universities, OUA is fast becoming an essential resource for Australian university students.

OUA Timeline from 1993 – 2018

  • 1993 Open Learning Agency of Australia Pty Ltd (OLAA) commenced operations in January 1993 and was incorporated as a private limited company, solely owned by Monash University, and set up by an agreement with the Commonwealth and with the provision of Commonwealth funding, under a ten-year guarantee.
  • 1996 Monash University invited six other universities to join as shareholders on equal terms. A deferred payment scheme was introduced by the Commonwealth – Open Learning Deferred Payment Scheme (OLDPS) along the lines of HECS to assist students.
  • 1996 the Company re-negotiated its agreement with the Commonwealth, significant changes included the capacity to set fee levels for undergraduate programs.
  • 2003 the Company’s Agreement with the Commonwealth Government formally ceased and discharged, removing the indemnities the Commonwealth had in place.
  • 2004 the Company changed its name to Open Universities Australia (OUA). The Commonwealth also repealed the former OLDPS and gave OUA students access to the new FEE-HELP scheme, which had more generous conditions for students than the previous OLDPS, with the new scheme applying to postgraduate enrolments as well.
  • 2010 a center for Online Learning Excellence was formed within the Company, with the objective of providing support to universities in effective online learning and content development.
  • 2012 OUA entered the MOOCs space with a new initiative called Open2Study in partnership with universities and professional associations here in Australia and overseas.
  • 2013 OUA acquired e3Learning, a company based in Adelaide, that provides compliance training programs for organisations across Australia.
  • 2016 OUA consolidates the business to refocus purely on higher education.
  • 2017 OUA on-boards The Australian National University, taking the number of partner universities to 12.
  • 2018 OUA celebrates 25 years along with a rise in student enrolments and the introduction of dozens of new subjects and degree programs.

About Open Universities Australia

OUA is the national leader in online higher education, offering students the ability to choose from more than 1380 subjects and 170 degree programs across a variety of disciplines from 12 leading Australian universities. OUA brings quality education to everyone, from anywhere, regardless of previous study experience. This year OUA is celebrating 25 years of empowering more than 350,000 students to achieve their study goals and attain higher education qualifications.