Adelaide University makes major leap to online learning with Pearson

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Up to 15 postgraduate degrees offered at the University of Adelaide will be going online.

By U2B Staff 

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Online learning has become the recruitment strategy du jour of universities operating in an increasingly competitive higher education environment. 

But more than a means to survive the marketplace, learning institutions are also recognising the value of online degrees as being complementary to the traditional degree as they provide a degree of flexibility.

In fact, research has shown this to be among the most popular reasons why learners choose this mode of learning. And given the pace of change in the world of work, this makes sense. Online learning offers students the freedom to work and study at the same time.


With all this in mind, Adelaide University this week became the latest among Australia’s most prestigious research universities to make the leap to online learning.

The institution confirmed in an announcement Monday that it was partnering with global education giant Pearson to offer up to 15 of its postgraduate degrees online. The five-year agreement is expected to attract some 4,000 students by 2024, which roughly translates to a notable 10 percent of the total student population.

Commenting, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said the partnership with Pearson opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the university to deliver its education to a wider range of students.

“From our earliest days, the University of Adelaide has valued excellence and inclusion. Our new strategic plan, Future Making, has now challenged the university to provide an innovative, 21st-century education to a growing community of learners,” Professor Rathjen said.

“We are excited to be partnering with Pearson on this important step forward.”

He stressed that online learning would not replace the campus experience but rather, it would augment it by drawing in new students who might not have otherwise studied there.

“This will broaden the reach of a University of Adelaide education, especially in those areas in which we excel, and will position our University as a leader in modern learning,” he said.


Professor Philippa Levy, the university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Student Learning, agreed, adding that the new offering aligns with the institution’s industry engagement priorities.

She said the offering would help the school contribute to upskilling and reskilling current workforces, in addition to providing thousands of learners with access to a world-class university education.

“A perfect example of a program that feeds directly into the new world of work is our new Graduate Diploma in Data Science.

“All aspects of our lives are being reshaped by data, which is crossing into every industry imaginable. Knowing how to use data has rapidly become a highly valued skill that can be applied in any workplace,” she added.

Across the next five years, Pearson and the university will work on programme design, development and delivery. Academic oversight, content and expertise will fall within the university’s remit, while Pearson offers its expertise in the online learning space.


Expressing excitement at the new partnership, Pearson Asia Pacific Managing Director David Barnett said the programmes will be designed to meet the needs of the students, whilst upholding the university’s education standards.

“Given the unique characteristics of these learners, the programmes and services that support students from their initial inquiry through to their successful completion will be designed to meet their specific needs, while maintaining a distinctively ‘Adelaidean’ feel,” he said.

Online classes for the Data Science diploma mentioned by Professor Levy have already begun. A new Graduate Diploma in Psychology will begin this October 28. Further to this, an online MBA will also be offered by the University of Adelaide from early 2020, with other programmes to be announced in the new year.