How we help elite athletes prepare for life after sport

Together with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS), we make studying easier for some of Australia’s most talented athletes. 

Kiera Austin training inside the Victorian Institute of Sport gym
Melbourne Vixens netball star Kiera Austin studies online around a busy training schedule.

Here at Open Universities Australia, we get to help people from all backgrounds start their study journey online.    

It means we count many who face barriers to on-campus education among our students, including those from low socio-economic backgrounds, those from remote communities, and those with disabilities. 

Since 2012, we have supported one other unique group of students through our partnership with the Victorian Institute of Sport—Olympians, Paralympians, and World Champion athletes who need to fit study around their incredible training commitments. 

How we partner with VIS to support athletes

VIS is a state-government funded organisation that helps Victoria’s best athletes achieve their sporting potential—not only through state-of-the-art training facilities, high performance services and coaching, but also through education and career guidance. 

We sponsor their Performance Lifestyle program by awarding up to five study scholarships to VIS athletes every year. This gives them the chance to complete one subject with the university of their choice online, free of charge, so they can prepare for life outside of their sport. 

It made perfect sense for Open Universities Australia to partner with VIS, given we’re both dedicated to helping people excel in what they’re passionate about,” says Craig Parr, our Head of Marketing and Partnerships.


“Through these scholarships, VIS athletes and coaches can access flexible courses delivered by leading universities without compromising their sporting dreams," he continues.

The 2023 recipients are Olympic aerial skier Laura Peel, who is using her scholarship to complete part of a Diploma of Modern Languages, and Melbourne Vixens netballer Kiera Austin. Kiera is completing the final subject of her Bachelor of Medical Science, Clinical Neuroscience and Neuropsychology, with La Trobe University

“The scholarships assist our athletes to be their best and to develop who they are as people as well as who they are as elite sporting performers,” explains Leesa Gallard, VIS’s Performance Lifestyle Manager. 

“Juggling training, uni and part-time work is a challenge for many athletes who need to support themselves financially, and the scholarships ease some of that financial pressure.”

Related reading: Kiera Austin reveals how OUA and VIS are helping her finish her degree

In many cases, the recipients are inspired to continue earning their qualification through us when they realise our advisors can help them plan study around their demanding travel schedules. 

“Laura Peel has studied several subjects through Open Universities Australia,” Leesa notes. “She spends more time overseas than in Australia to train and compete and studying online is a great benefit.”

For the first time in 2023, the scholarships are also available to VIS coaches and staff, who can study topics directly related to their roles. VIS Communications and Marketing Coordinator Kate Paul-Drevensek is the first lucky staff recipient and will use her scholarship to complete an Introduction to Video Production subject with the University of South Australia—which will empower her to tell VIS stories in new and exciting ways. 

Enabling success in sport and life

In addition to the scholarships, Open Universities Australia also sponsors the VIS Performance Lifestyle Award, which is presented at the prestigious VIS Award of Excellence gala night in November each year. 

This award recognises an athlete who has excelled in their studies, working life and sporting career, with past winners including Commonwealth Games Champion race walker Jemima Montag, and Olympic shooter Elena Galiabovitch. 

We can’t wait to introduce you to the 2023 finalists over the coming months—to tell you their stories, and to share their triumphs. 

Their achievements really do demonstrate the power of accessible online study, and how it can help anyone feel more confident about their career options—even Australia’s best athletes.


Learn more about the Victorian Institute of Sport's innovative Performance Lifestyle program. 


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