The growth of the online learning sector is outpacing traditional university study as more students choose internet study options. It’s estimated that online universities will earn close to $5 billion in 2014-15.
IBISWorld research has revealed that online course revenues are catching up with traditional universities, and now make up approximately 18 percent of all revenue. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are presently growing at 11.6 percent annually, while higher education as a whole is growing at 3.7 percent.
While some traditional universities continue to resist the move to online learning, others are enthusiastically embracing the situation. Open Universities Australia (OUA) is supported by prestigious Australian universities such as RMIT, Monash, La Trobe and Curtin Universities.
OUA is expanding rapidly, and has experienced annual growth of more than 20 percent during the past five years. Developments include contracts to provide training for major organisations including Westpac, NAB and the Australian Defence Force.
Reasons for the extraordinary growth in online learning include:
- technological advancements
- faster internet speeds
- convenient and flexible study timetables
- partnerships with major employers
- increasing appeal of higher education
Recent decades have seen a trend toward upskilling in Australia. Online study options have enabled Australians to remain in the workforce while upgrading their qualifications. Public perception toward online learning has also played its part, with potential students understanding the valid qualifications that online learning provides. Government supported higher education HECS-HELP schemes are also equally accessible for online learning as they are in traditional learning institutions.
An IBIS report midway through 2014 disclosed present participation rates in online learning:
- postgraduate degrees: 13.8%
- undergraduate courses: 11.3%
- vocational certificates and diplomas: 16.5%
- informal online study: 56%
It’s expected that most undergraduates will continue to opt for the complete university experience that only on-campus study can provide, although online education is becoming increasingly attractive for postgraduate education, including masters degree courses.