Why study online?


Open Universities Australia has always been about giving choice to students. For more than 20 years we've offered people a way of studying that doesn't require attendance at a university campus.

Today, through OUA, you can study units and courses with 12 leading Australian universities across seven areas of undergraduate or postgraduate study. And in many cases you can tailor your study to suit what interests you.

Unit by unit study

With OUA you study units during study terms (our version of semesters). You can study as many as four units at any one time, although we usually recommend one or two, especially if you're just starting out. (You can even take a break from study if you need to.) We call the amount of study you do per study term your 'study load'.

A unit is a standalone subject covering an academic topic (Principles of Economics, for example). It's also a component of one or more full courses (the Bachelor of Accounting, for instance).

Using units as your building blocks, you can work towards a qualification from the moment you start studying with OUA. But if you don't want to commit to a pre-set study path straight away, in many cases you don't have to. It's your choice.

Electives and open electives

There are two main types of units: compulsory units and electives.

An elective is a non-compulsory unit within a course. Some courses offered through OUA have no electives, but most have anywhere between one and twelve.

Electives let you shape a course to fit your interests. For example, if you're studying the Swinburne Bachelor of Business, but would love to learn more about Indigenous Australian art, you can study Indigenous Arts, Culture and Design from the University of South Australia and have it count towards your Business degree.

Mixing, matching and studying what suits you

As the example above shows, with OUA you can take units from different disciplines (business and humanities), and different universities (Swinburne and the University of South Australia), and still stay on track to graduate with a degree.

And it doesn't just go for electives, either.

Take the Principles of Economics unit offered by the University of South Australia as an example. It's a compulsory unit if you want to complete the University of South Australia's Bachelor of Accounting. But it's also a required course for six other courses offered by four other universities. In other words, you can choose that unit safe in the knowledge that you're not narrowing yourself down to a single course or even a single university.

The same goes for hundreds of other units offered through OUA (and can always find out which units link to which courses using the 'Relevant Courses' section of all the unit pages on our website).


One of the reasons we give our students so much choice and flexibility is because lots of people come to OUA without any experience of university study. Often, they know they want to study, they're just not sure straight away which academic direction they want to take.

There are also students who know they want to study, but aren't sure where to start - that's totally understandable. For them, we offer OUA Pathways, a combination of four units designed to get you into the swing of study (in the broad field a student's interested in) and prepare them for a full course.