Federation University is looking toward a digital future to generate growth and strengthen its finances as COVID lockdowns and border closures continue to impact the institution.
A new Federation Online platform will be launched as early as next year to increase student numbers and expand the university's reach in to regional Australia.
"Online education is the fastest growing segment of our sector," said Federation University vice chancellor Professor Duncan Bentley.
"It targets a new and different group of students to those who seek a traditional 'in person' experience, to which we remain committed."
A Global Professional School will also be established to grow international student numbers, building on the thousands of students overseas that the university is supporting throughout the pandemic.
"We have an enormous opportunity over time to grow our international student numbers and offerings via our partner network, which is one of the largest in Australia," he said.
"We already have 1700 international students studying Federation qualifications through our partners in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, while we have 1100 students studying through our partners in their home countries of China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and from next year, Sri Lanka."
And a business accelerator team will be established to develop new curriculum and learning materials both for the university as it establishes Federation Online and the Global Professional School, and to work closely with industries and individual companies to develop courses, qualifications and micro-credentials according to demand.
Our #Victorian Campuses may be physically closed, but you can still book a VIP #VirtualTour and speak with one our #FedUni team about your options for 2022! Visit https://t.co/pe13ES2qt8 to book a time and discover what awaits you at Federation University. pic.twitter.com/g0ZI5XGj5o— Federation University (@FedUniAustralia) August 23, 2021
Professor Bentley said there was growing demand from companies for micro-credentials and tailored learning, which would blur the line between university campuses and the city with training provided in workplaces.
"We will see a lot more blending of the workplace with the campus - there won't be such a big divide or wall - it will be a case of how we integrate workplaces in to where we are."
He outlined the strategic plan to staff in a statement on Monday.
The past 18 months of the COVID pandemic and it's impact in forcing education online had accelerated the digital future.
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"I think where acceleration has occurred is with with learners who have realised they can do a lot more online , and online can be a wonderful experience - look at gamers ... they don't get bored with being online for hours and hours because the experience they get is so good and that's what we have got to do, to re-create an exciting and engaging physical and digital combined experience."
Professor Bentley said the new focus would not adversely impact on-campus student or staff numbers, with some staff seconded to development of the new platforms and recruitment for newly created positions to begin in the coming weeks.
"These exciting new initiatives will, over time, generate significant revenue and allow us to grow Federation nationally and internationally," he said.
"There is no denying that we are facing a seismic shift in the higher education sector due to COVID and that our financial position has been heavily impacted. However, I have always been very clear on the fact that we cannot simply cut our way to success. We must make strategic investments to build a strong and sustainable university, which these three new initiatives will allow us to do."
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