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Open Universities and Online Courses

Key points

  • Online study gives you the freedom to choose where and when you study.
  • There are many options to study online units, courses and entire degrees online. 
  • The Good Universities Guide and Open Universities Australia has lots of information and options for online learning. 

Studying online 

Many universities and TAFEs offer units or entire degrees on the Internet! Online study gives you the freedom to choose when and where you do your coursework. This flexibility is particularly appealing to students who are working full-time, who are parents or carers, or who have a disability or health condition.

If you choose to study online, you may still be required to visit the campus on a few rare occasions. But otherwise, you can complete your modules and assessments from home. Some classes occur in real-time so that you can interact with your lecturers and fellow students. Others are more flexible – you’ll be responsible for staying up-to-date with the weekly content. These courses might also have online forums for students to share study experiences, ask relevant questions, and generally support each other with their learning.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are another way to study online. Unlike university or TAFE courses, MOOCs are generally free of charge; and they do not require you to meet any entrance criteria, such as having studied certain subjects in high school or achieved a particular grade.

MOOCs are often short courses, so they can be a good way to find out what you enjoy without committing to a longer period of study. Completing a MOOC won’t give you a formal qualification, but some universities allow people who have completed one of their MOOCs to get credit for recognised learning if they enrol in an associated formal qualification course. In other words, you might not have to enrol in and pay for one of the first year units of the formal qualification course. This credit for recognised learning differs across universities so it is a good idea to check if it applies to a MOOC and associated formal course you are interested in.

Finding online courses

You can start browsing some online courses at:

  • The Good Universities Guide has a webpage about MOOCs and where to find them. You can click on links to broad areas of job interests (such as Agriculture, Business, Environmental Sciences or Computer Studies) to see which universities are offering MOOCs with related topics. You can also see which MOOCs might be a pathway to formal qualification courses.
  • Open Universities Australia webpage provides a wide list of subject areas that offer online courses. You can select a broad topic – such as ‘Languages’ and then find a specific course you are interested in – for example, 'Introductory Japanese’. You can see valuable information such as:
    • which University offers this online class and the associated formal qualification
    • what you can expect to learn in this online class
    •  when enrolment starts and for how many weeks the classes run
    •  if there are any entry requirements (e.g. previous study or courses to be completed prior to taking this class)
    • how much the class will cost you. Unlike MOOCS, many of these online classes are NOT FREE– so make sure you check how much they cost, and what type of fee assistance might be available to you before you sign up.
  • Online Studies Australia is another webpage that allows you to explore partly and fully online courses offered at different universities in Australia. Although these courses are online, unlike a MOOC, they are NOT FREE, and you have to pay a tuition fee. Many of these courses are a formal qualification course that can be completed from anywhere if you have access to a computer and the Internet. Some courses require you to attend a campus in person for parts of the course; especially courses like nursing, with a hands-on or practical component that you have to demonstrate your skills.

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