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Austrade and FutureLearn extend agreement

Australia’s higher education offerings will be accessible to millions of people across the globe, with the signing of a new five-year strategic agreement to deliver free online short courses through the Future Learn social learning platform.

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The initiative was awarded the 2020 Excellence Award for Innovation in International Education by IEAA

The agreement builds on the success of the award-winning Study with Australia campaign which was launched in April last year as a joint pilot between the Australian Trade and Investment Commission and FutureLearn to deliver short courses offered by 20 Australian education providers.

“When Covid-19 impacted higher education, Australian providers were quick to develop innovative ways to continue teaching their students,” said minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan.

“During the pilot, ‘Study with Australia’ clocked up more than 836,000 enrolments across 52 courses in just three months.”

“While international travel is limited, this initiative ensures students can stay connected to Australia”

Austrade promoted the short courses as a way to ‘try before you buy’ and said they were ‘stackable’ options that earn study credits towards longer qualifications.

Results from the pilot program also showed rates of enrolment conversion from short courses into full qualifications much higher than program targets with a 1.7% conversion rate compared to the aim of 1%.

The countries driving the highest number of enrolments were India, UK, Australia, Colombia and Brazil while the best performing courses were in the subject areas of industry/career related skills; pre-sessional learning; sustainability; teaching and psychology.

The top 10 most popular courses accounted for 44% of total enrolments.

Tehan said the new agreement builds on this momentum to enable high-quality Australian education providers across all sub-sectors to participate on a no-cost entry, fee revenue-share basis.

“The global online e-learning market is forecast to grow from US$101 billion to more than US$370bn by 2026, which is a huge opportunity for Australian universities and education providers to reach a global audience and provide jobs and growth here in Australia.”

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the project will provide international students worldwide with access to short courses through Australian education institutions.

“Of course, we want international students back in Australia, but while international travel is limited, this initiative ensures students can stay connected to Australia and our world-leading education providers at a time when they need it most.”

FutureLearn chief content and partnerships officer Justin Cooke said the company is proud to be continuing the partnership which has seen the delivery of courses to more than 450,000 people across the globe in high-demand areas such as digital, technology, law and healthcare.

“We now look forward to continuing to showcase the best of Australia’s education offering as we build on our shared mission to transform access to education.”

The initiative was awarded the 2020 Excellence Award for Innovation in International Education by the International Education Association of Australia.

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