Open Universities Australia appoints new CEO

Open Universities Australia has appointed Stuart Elmslie to the role of Chief Executive Officer following an extensive national search.

Australia’s national leader in providing access to online higher education, Open Universities Australia (OUA), has appointed Stuart Elmslie to the role of Chief Executive Officer following an extensive national search and interview process led by OUA’s Board of Directors.

Following the departure of former OUA CEO Paul Wappett in January this year, Mr. Elmslie initially stepped into the position of interim CEO after spending two years as the company’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive General Manager of Corporate Services.

During his time in this role the business has experienced considerable growth with OUA Chairman, Professor S. Bruce Dowton, saying that Mr. Elmslie’s leadership during this period resulted in his appointment to the permanent role from a very strong field of highly qualified candidates.

“At the end of last year OUA’s digital transformation journey began with the relaunch of our digital marketplace, enabling the business to swiftly on-board new university partners and significantly expand the number of subjects and degree programs on offer to students,” says Professor Dowton.

“The Board were focused on finding a candidate with a strong understanding of marketplace business platforms and - following a thorough recruitment process - it was the combination of Stuart’s previous experience in managing and growing digital based businesses, along with his proven track record of delivering results for OUA which led to a unanimous decision from the Board to appoint him to CEO.”

Since the relaunch of OUA’s digital platform in late 2017, OUA has welcomed four new university partners to the marketplace including The Australian National University, University of Tasmania, Flinders University and, most recently, the University of New South Wales.

New university partnerships have meant a much-enhanced array of new programs becoming available to students, with more than a hundred new degrees joining the marketplace during 2018 leading to a 16% rise in new student enrolments (YoY) and a significant increase in lead referrals.

Mr. Elmslie says he feels humbled to be taking on the CEO position during such an exciting time for the business.

“OUA is an incredibly dynamic business and the growth in new students, new universities and new product this year clearly demonstrates our role within the higher education sector as an essential resource for students to compare, choose and enrol into online degrees with Australian universities,” says Mr. Elmslie.

“The OUA marketplace now has hundreds of degree programs and more than 1,600 subjects to choose from, making the difficult process of appraising options across a complicated landscape of universities and funding regimes as efficient and effective as possible.”

Over the last couple of years, OUA has invested heavily into growing national marketing campaigns which has led to a rapid rise in geographic reach and brand awareness for both OUA and its university partners.

“As the competitive landscape within Australia’s higher education sector becomes increasingly fierce, OUA is in the unique position of being able to offer a range of unrivalled benefits to university partners, including an ‘always on’ approach to our robust countrywide marketing campaigns, designed to boost enrolments outside of a university’s home state.”

“The upshot is delivering value to providers in the form of enrolments and, subsequently, extended breadth of choice and access for students.”

“Heading into 2019 we’re absolutely committed to maintaining the momentum we’ve gained throughout the last year—our goals remain ambitious and I’m excited to be leading our talented and energised team towards the continued growth of the OUA marketplace.”

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About Stuart Elmslie

Prior to stepping into the role of CEO, Stuart was Chief Financial Officer and Executive General Manager of Corporate Services from February 2016, responsible for finance, legal and regulatory, strategy, business planning and architecture, ICT, people performance and culture, and the transformation of the business to becoming the largest digital marketplace for accessing higher education in Australia.

As a Chartered Accountant with more than 22 years’ experience, Stuart started his professional career with Deloitte, before taking on senior finance and commercial leadership roles with Macquarie Bank, UBS AG and Granada Media across multiple locations including Australia, Switzerland and North America. Stuart has a broad and deep level of experience in managing and growing technology and digital based businesses, both as start-ups and mid-sized organisations in sports and business media, fine arts, photography and print, and tertiary education. Read Stuart's bio for more information.

About Open Universities Australia

OUA is the national leader in online higher education, offering students the ability to choose from more than 1,600 subjects and hundreds of degree programs across a variety of disciplines from leading Australian universities. OUA enables access to quality education for everyone, from anywhere, regardless of previous study experience. This year OUA is celebrating 25 years of empowering more than 400,000 students to achieve their study goals and attain higher education qualifications. See the OUA website for more information at