The University of New South Wales is doubling down on online learning, partnering with provider Keypath Education to launch a series of Master’s programs that will run solely online.
To launch by early nearly year, the university will first launch Business and Engineering programs. According to UNSW, the move comes as it has already redesigned more than 70 courses for ‘blended’ – or online and on campus – delivery, with this to expand to 600 over the next five years.
Professor Geoffrey Crisp, UNSW pro vice-chancellor (education), said digital education facilitates a “global experience”.
“Our students need to be able to engage with other students, industry, and community groups or organisations all around the world, and our technology will enable them to do that,” he said.
According to the university, the fully online degrees can cater to mid-career professionals looking to upskill or move into new roles or areas and balance their study with other commitments, with the sector having seen a 25 percent increase in online postgrad education between 2011 and 2015.
Ryan O’Hare, CEO of Keypath Education in Australia and Asia Pacific, said students aren’t comparing their online education to their experience on campus – rather, he said, they’re comparing it to their online banking experience, or their online real estate experience.
“So, if it isn’t as intuitive and user-friendly, flexible, and accessible as that, then they won’t have a quality experience learning online. We need to cater to that, and also ensure they are having a memorable and rewarding student experience,” he said.
“With UNSW we have the opportunity to take best-of-breed from an academic and university perspective, and our expertise in online learning, and bring them together to continue to push the boundaries of what can be done in online learning.”
UNSW is one of a number of local universities looking to online education, while Australian-born startups are also helping global institutions facilitate online learning.
Founded in 2008 by Dror Ben-Naim, a researcher at the University of New South Wales, Sydney-born Smart Sparrow offers teachers and university professors an online platform where they’re able to design their own online course content to create an interactive and ‘adaptive’ learning experience for students.
The startup last April announced the closing of a US$4 (AU$5.3) million Series C round led by OneVentures to further its expansion in the US, where it has signed on clients from institutions including Arizona State University, Columbia University, and Stanford University.