Welcome to the first edition of REACH, Open Universities Australia’s (OUA) university network newsletter. The REACH newsletter is designed to share information and insights regarding OUA students, partner programs, new initiatives and major achievements.
The newsletter is distributed to our partner universities quarterly and we hope it will serve as a platform for sharing information and opportunities across the network.
In this first edition, we highlight the different nature of OUA students; we outline the new ways OUA is recognising teaching excellence; and we are providing information on our forth coming Higher Education Market Opportunities Overview.
As Australia’s leading marketplace for online higher education, OUA’s portfolio of partner universities represents a unique network of online practitioners, expertise and innovation. Through this newsletter we hope to increase awareness and enhance access to opportunities to this network.
We are looking forward to your feedback, and to having your say on what you would like to be included within future editions of REACH by completing the comments section below, or simply contacting us at email@example.com.
While the majority of students studying on-campus tend to be school leavers, OUA students are different.
The demographic is older, and almost a half being in full-time employment and 70% in some form of active employment.
Graph: Comparison of OUA and on-campus students by age
Source: ABS 2014 and OUA Data Warehouse
Table 1: Employment Status of OUA students
Source: Data extracted from OUA Data Warehouse
This picture varies when we look at OUA student data by broad field of study.
For instance, when filtered by Management and Commerce, the proportion of students who reported being in full-time employment increases from 44% to 60%.
Table 2: Employment Status of OUA students undertaking Units classified by Field of Education as Management and Commerce
Source: Data extracted from OUA Data Warehouse
Despite their older age and high levels of active employment, the vast majority of OUA students (92%) are studying at the undergraduate level. This contrasts with universities on-campus experience, where older students with higher levels of employment are often associated with undertaking postgraduate study.
When talking with academic staff in some of our partner universities this seems to contrast with the experience of on-campus teaching of undergraduate programs where the majority of students are considered school leavers.
While OUA students can bring a rich source of life experience to their online studies, being older and having high levels of employment responsibility means they are likely to face greater family and work pressure. As one academic staff member noted at a recent meeting, when you are teaching and interacting with students on-campus, it can be difficult to remember that students studying online can be different and have very different needs.
Whether it be scheduling a synchronise online discussion or the design of subject assessment, understanding the needs of students studying online remains a developing challenge for practitioners and university operations dominated by on-campus study.
In the future editions of REACH, we will share further information about the different demographics of OUA students.
OUA wants to identify and recognise staff who demonstrate excellence in the engagement of students studying online.
Using student satisfaction data, OUA is able to rank course units across a range of unit categories at the end of each teaching period. The data is assessed against additional criteria and key performance requirements agreed to with partner universities to finalise selection.
Using results from the first teaching period in 2017, OUA has now written to the partner Universities and staff responsible for the top performing course units identified by student satisfaction to congratulate and recognise the outstanding results being achieved.
OUA understands that the effective engagement and teaching of students studying fully online requires a different set of skills and approach to traditional on-campus teaching. With universities offering more and more of their courses online, the skills needed to effectively engage students in an online learning environment is becoming increasingly important.
By providing Letters of Recognition, OUA hopes to:
OUA recently launched the Rapid Development Fund (RDF) to help universities develop and deliver new programs into the OUA portfolio. The RDF provides grants and loans of up to $135k to fast track the offering of new and high demand programs by University partners.
Funding is intended to support the design, development and project management costs associated with preparing programs or units to be offered fully online to OUA students.
OUA’s ‘open portfolio’ approach encourages university partners to offer any of their units or programs online and the RDF is already helping universities to broaden their online offering across popular areas of study including teacher education, business and communications.
Evidence demonstrates that the University which brings in more new programs and renews their portfolio, experiences the largest rates of growth in student enrolments.
Funding is limited and institutions keen to expand their portfolio of online courses are actively taking up this opportunity. If you would like to learn more you can access the brochure here (insert link to PDF).
OUA is excited to announce the soon-to-be published first edition the Higher Education Market Opportunities Overview.
OUA is unique in the Australian higher education market in that it is the only alliance of universities in Australia collaborating to offer online programs. By virtue of its pioneering role in online education and its very nature and structure, OUA delivers a unique set of benefits including collated data and insights to assist universities in making decisions and monitoring performance.
The annual document will share insights into what prospective students want from universities, how they make their choices about what to study and priorities for growing the OUA portfolio.
Insights are based on information gathered from a range of sources including OUA’s own lead and enrolment data, our annual survey of (insert number of students) current and prospective students and government data sources.
If you would like to receive an advance copy please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT OUR UNIVERSITY RELATIONSHIPS TEAM
OUA’s University Relationships team works with our University partners to grow and enhance the choice of programs and units available to students through OUA’s digital marketplace.
The team’s activities include:
For assistance with OUA’s University relationships, or for any queries please contact us by submitting the form below.