With impact for university partners and students at the core of its strategy, Open Universities Australia (OUA) – Australia's leading online marketplace for accessing higher education – has today announced an expansion to its already successful Rapid Development Fund.

Established in 2017 to support the higher education sector in offering students more choice by bringing programs online, the Rapid Development Fund is expanding from a single focussed fund to include up to three grants to support online course development and innovation across the sector.

CEO of Open Universities Australia, Stuart Elmslie, says the success of the fund to date and the recent, significant changes in the market have amplified the need for additional support to be given.

“Over the past three years, OUA’s Rapid Development Fund has been really effective in supporting universities bring new online learning programs to the OUA marketplace. To date, cumulative investments of up to $3m from this fund have facilitated the introduction of 36 new degrees, generating over 10,000 student enrolments and over $19 million in value (and growing).”

"With this approach having resonated so positively with our university partners, it has provided a useful template when thinking through the challenges of how to further assist universities access the resources and capabilities necessary to innovate and bring things like short courses and microcredentials to market,” Elmslie adds.

Building on the success of the Rapid Development Fund to date, OUA is expanding the Fund into three key Grants, comprising:

  • Open Degree Development Grant: Grants available to help universities develop online degrees. These are full qualifications to be marketed nationally as a full-service listing on the OUA marketplace. Each degree is funded to a maximum of $135,000.
  • Open Microcredential Development Grant: Grants available in form of development funding from OUA and learning design services from OpenLearning to help universities create new, online ready, microcredentials following to the OpenCreds framework. Each grant comprises a one-off payment of $10,000, plus $15,000 in learning design support from OpenLearning.
  • Open Innovation Development Grant: Grants available to help universities innovate across the areas of marketing, student acquisition and course development. Funding available for this grant is to be confirmed for the 2021 calendar year, however 2020 saw a soft launch of this initiative with fee free listings of Higher Education Certificates developed in response to the Higher Education Relief Package

The expansion of the fund marks a further evolution and commitment by Open Universities Australia to partner in value with the university sector in response to challenging market conditions.

Elmslie adds that “the expansion of our Rapid Development Fund is a natural extension of the role we can play in offering help to our university partners and meet the evolving needs of students and their job readiness for the future”.

The expansion of Open Universities Australia’s Rapid Development Fund is in effect from Monday 13 July, with courses planned to go live via the Open Microcredential Development Grant by September 2020.

Read more about the RDF here.

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