Education software company OpenLearning (ASX: OLL) extended its existing partnership with strategic investor, Australian Catholic University (ACU), by signing a supplementary three-year platform software as a service (SaaS) agreement.
The deal is intended to support the what university’s deputy vice-chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis described as its “innovation agenda in a continually transforming digital environment”.
The duo became partners in late 2019 when the ACU invested $1 million as a cornerstone investor in OpenLearning’s IPO, a move which the university said was its first strategic investment and its first direct investment in a technology company for “many years”.
The news means the university will utilise OpenLearning’s platform to deliver short courses, micro-credentials and internal professional development programs, initially focusing on the health and education sectors before branching out into other niches.
Moreover, the ACU is set to obtain access to OpenLearning’s learning services division at “prevailing rates”, thereby allowing the university to enhance its online courses and support its internal team to build their learning design capability.
According to the terms of the deal, fees will be charged based on the number of unique learners and will be renegotiated if the number of unique learners exceeds the upper limit of 20,000 during the term of the agreement.
Currently, the ACU is one of the fastest-growing universities in Australia, with eight campuses in nation-wide and a further facility in Rome, catering for almost 40,000 students in total.
The university has committed to offering online courses under the Australian Government’s higher education relief package and intends to use OpenLearning’s multifaceted platform to achieve its target.
Furthermore, the university is preparing for a more socially distant future that maintains many of the restrictions currently being imposed globally.
The ACU said it moved most of its classes online in March this year and plans to have students gradually return to its campuses as restrictions are eased, but, is also operating in response to a broader shift that was already occurring, the move towards online and remote learning.
Both the university and OpenLearning stated they envisage a broad shift to online versions of existing educational services with the COVID-19 virus set to create long-lasting changes in the delivery of education worldwide, including greater attention from consumers on the quality of online learning delivered by universities.
In terms of recent performance, OpenLearning is demonstrating that online services are booming. Since its IPO last year, the education software company has maintained growth across key metrics including a 124% year on year increase in clients and an 80% increase in annualised recurring revenue in Q1 2020.
Over the past 12 months, the company also recorded its largest-ever quarterly increase in usage, adding 430,000 users and 488,000 enrolments in Q3 last year to reach 2.1 million registered users and over 3 million enrolments.
This trend has been maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns and greater incidences of remote working have boosted demand for OpenLearning’s platform.
“We are very excited to expand our partnership with ACU through this agreement, which will create significant value for both ACU and OpenLearning by enabling the cost-effective delivery of short courses and micro-credentials in line with ACU’s educational values,” OpenLearning chief executive officer and managing director Adam Brimo said.
“Like many universities, ACU has had to quickly adapt to a post-COVID-19 world in which education must be completely delivered online without sacrificing outcomes. We look forward to continuing our partnership with ACU and other leading universities worldwide,” said Mr Brimo.