Ever thought of going to University Online?

Online Learning

It’s no surprise that 2020 has made us rethink what’s possible.

One of the few good things that has come out of this entire pandemic experience is that Online Learning has come along in leaps and bounds. People of all ages have found ways to continue their learning from home using technology like zoom and a good dose of creativity.

If you’re weighing up your options for 2021 and beyond, you might like to take another look at your post-school online learning options. Even if the pandemic is still making waves, you could start a university degree or vocational course without needing to leave the house.

To get a better idea of what going to uni online could look like we asked David Cummings from Open Universities Australia about the Online Learning experience:


SWG: Thanks for speaking with us today, can you start by telling us what online learning means?

David: When you take up online learning, you don’t attend a bricks and mortar classroom or lecture hall. Your university gives you the study materials and guidance you need to work through your degree on your own terms, whilst remaining connected with your tutors and peers through discussion forums and other online stimuli.

SWG: What is it really like to learn online? Would I still go to tutorials and lectures?

David: Whilst many people think that online learning is a very solo pursuit, in actual fact, it is not. By studying online through a university, you still get to interact with students and tutors as you would in a classroom, the only difference being it’s in online discussion forums and/or via video conferences.

And like all students undertaking degrees, you still have set dates for assignments and exams, it’s just that it’s easier for you to structure your study around your timetable.

SWG: What are the benefits to learning online versus a traditional in-person university experience?

David: You’ll find online higher education is flexible enough to fit around your life.

Since there are study terms all year-round, you’re able to set your own study pace and fast-track your degree or slow it down. You can also design a study load that suits you and mix and match the number of subjects you take each study term.

As long as you have access to the internet, learning online through OUA means you can study anytime and anywhere with your lecture and tutorial materials available day or night.

SWG: Does online learning cost the same as an on campus degree? Can I get a grant or scholarship for online learning?

David: There is basically no price differential between online and on-campus study, and students can access Commonwealth Supported Places. And yes, Online students are considered 100% equal to on campus students when it comes to access to grants and scholarships.

Our students can also access the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) which can help with fees through HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP just like on campus students.

SWG: Will I finish with a different or less prestigious qualification than if I studied on campus?

David: Absolutely not! Open Universities Australia (OUA) is not in itself a university, rather an online higher education marketplace that connects students with more than 400 degrees from 21 universities across Australia.

Whilst you might initially deal with OUA to explore, choose and enrol in your degree, from that point on you are a student of the university of which you’re studying your degree with.

For example, if you’re studying a Bachelor of Arts with Macquarie University through OUA, when you graduate your qualification will be as a Macquarie University student.

SWG: What happens if my degree includes practical components? For example, can I still do teaching placements even if I’m studying online?

David: By nature of choosing online learning, most of your subjects will be online through your University’s learning management system (LMS).

However, many degrees involve practical placements for on the spot training, which is taken into consideration by the universities when structuring the syllabus for their students – which includes online students.

If you undertake a course that has practical requirements – such as Nursing or Education, or technical degrees that require time in a laboratory or a kitchen, the University will clearly explain these location-based learning requirements on degree and subject pages.

Universities choose to manage these requirements differently based on the university and the course, so it’s worth investigating all these options if your desired degree has a component that requires physical attendance.

One example of this is for students studying Education through Curtin University. As part of the practical components of the degree, Curtin University allows students to undertake their placements within a student’s local community.

SWG: Can I get in touch with the teachers if I need support?

David: Definitely. Just like studying on campus, you will have direct access to academic staff involved in setting and hosting your classes. You’ll be able to find their contact details with your study materials once you get underway.

Sometimes universities will have dedicated support systems for students who are studying online, and at OUA we have student advisors who can help you if you’re having problems enrolling, choosing or withdrawing from subjects, or dealing with any other administrative issues seven days a week.

SWG: Does it feel lonely to study online?

David: For many students, studying online is a great social outlet – particularly if they’ve chosen online study due to living remotely or if there’s an inability to study on campus for other reasons.

As is the case with the impacts of COVID-19 and much of the discussion around social isolation that comes with that, the technology that’s available is designed around making people feel as connected as possible, despite any physical separation.

As an example, all students who have enrolled via OUA can join the lively and supportive OUA community on Facebook. This is a community of past and present OUA students who like to connect over their study journeys…started through OUA.

SWG: Do online students have access to the on-campus facilities, such as the library and computer labs?

David: Online students have access to most of the university’s on-campus facilities, that are practicable via distance. This includes access to things like the university library, where most books and journals are available electronically, as well as remote access to all other services like the student union and student social groups.

SWG: What kinds of degrees can be studied online?

David: All sorts of degrees can be studied online – from undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to short courses and microcredentials for those wishing to upskill or reskill in a certain area.

Anything from Education and Nursing, to Languages, Computer Science and Taxonomy can be studies through Open Universities Australia’s 21 university providers.

SWG: Does it take longer to study a degree online?

David: No. In many instances it can take less time to study a degree online, as student’s can choose to take on more units of credit at any one time depending on how they structure their degrees or study.

SWG: Is it possible to change courses and transfer credits?

David: Yes, it is. As is the process for studying on-campus, online students can work with their university administrators to arrange credit transfers for any relevant courses or degrees.

SWG: Is it possible to change to on-campus learning down the track if we get COVID-19 under control?

David: If a transfer from online to on-campus study is something you are considering from the get-go, then doing your research on the university you wish to study with and their options for this is a first step.

Irrespective of the impacts of COVID-19 on the ability for one to study on campus, you are able to transfer your study to on-campus as long as the transfer is approved by the university where you plan to study. To do this, you’ll need to apply through their Tertiary Admissions Centre.

One thing to consider is that if you’ve already completed some of your subjects through OUA it can improve your chances of receiving an offer from your university of choice.

If you’re studying a postgraduate degree, these can be flexible when it comes to transfers. But, if you’re an international student, arrangements may vary. If either of these scenarios describe you, check your options with your university directly.

SWG: Thanks so much for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us, David.


If you’re considering online learning for 2021 (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) check out what OUA have on offer.

With over 400 degrees and 2,300 subjects across 21 leading Australian universities, they may have just the course you’re looking for.

Discover Open Universities Australia

Wondering how you can apply to university? Go here to check out our Guide to Applying to Uni for 2021.

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