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Date published: 13 December 2010

AFL stars at the end of their elite playing careers have the chance to gain further higher education through a scholarship program launched today by Open Universities Australia (OUA) and the AFL Players Association.

As part of the partnership, OUA is offering "Learning for Life" Scholarships to five AFL footballers who have been retired for three or more years.

OUA is the national leader in online education, offering over 1100 units and 130 courses from 18 leading Australian universities and higher education providers.

Applications for the OUA 'Learning for Life' Scholarship Program are now open and close on 12 January 2011. The applications will be assessed by a selection panel of senior representatives from the AFLPA and OUA, and the winners notified by 20 January 2011.

AFLPA chief executive Matt Finnis said there was a real need for AFL players to develop themselves personally in non-football activities.

"At the AFLPA, a lot of work we do is around supporting the holistic individual. Players need to be prepared for a career beyond football and for many, that will involve further education during or after their playing days," Mr Finnis said.

OUA General Manager of Marketing and Business Development, Cratis Hippocrates, said the scholarships were part of OUA's commitment to providing world-class education and training opportunities for AFL players.

"Online learning through OUA enables students to fit study around their training, playing, work or family commitments. We have seen a 60% increase in enrolments through the AFLPA over the past 12 months," he said.

"Current and former AFL stars including St Kilda's Nick Del Santo have studied through OUA and we're delighted to extend this opportunity to retired players through our scholarship program.

"Players who are looking ahead to future coaching careers have some great options in the new courses being offered for 2011, which include the Graduate Certificate in Sports Coaching and the Master of Sports Coaching," Mr Hippocrates said.

About Open Universities Australia

Owned by seven of Australia's premier universities, OUA is the national leader in quality online tertiary education, enrolling more than 144,000 students since 1993. We provide access to more than 1100 units and 130 courses taught by 18 leading universities and other tertiary education providers around the country in: Arts & Humanities, Business, Education, Health, Law & Justice, Information Technology, and Science & Engineering.

For further information, please see the contact information on the right.