Higher education software as a service (SaaS) company OpenLearning (ASX: OLL) has signed a memorandum of understanding, a platform SaaS and course distribution agreement and a services agreement with Open Universities Australia to deliver micro-credentials to students through the OUA marketplace.
The agreements have an initial term of three years and set out key initiatives to provide tertiary institutions with low-risk entry into the micro-credential (or short course) market by leveraging OUA’s established marketplace and OpenLearning’s platform and services.
The first initiative will see OUA retain a white-labelled portal on OpenLearning’s platform, providing universities with a fully-managed solution for delivering courses.
OpenLearning will receive a fixed usage-based SaaS fee for each enrolment on the OUA platform or a percentage of enrolment fees for courses jointly developed under the agreements.
OUA will receive a marketing and distribution fee on a success basis for promoting selected courses from OpenLearning’s partners.
A second initiative has seen OUA and OpenLearning establish a $750,000 Open Microcredential Development Grant (OMDG) to support the creation of courses aligned to the OpenCreds framework.
OpenCreds is Australia’s first cross-sector, micro-credential framework designed to meet the needs of the education sector, industry and lifelong learners.
The grant will support 30 OpenCreds courses offered across a host of different universities and will be administered by OUA within the $1.1 million Rapid Development Fund.
The RDF was established in 2019 to help universities develop and deliver new programs into the OUA portfolio.
OUA will list a suite of micro-credentials developed through the OMDG, as well as selected micro-credentials from other partners, through its marketplace.
OUA is Australia’s largest online higher education marketplace and partners with leading universities across Australia, including OpenLearning strategic investor Australian Catholic University, as well as Australian National University, University of South Australia, Curtin University and Macquarie University.
It has enrolled over 440,000 students since its establishment in 1993 and currently offers over 400 degrees and more than 2000 subjects from 21 universities.
OpenLearning has more than 2.17 million learners worldwide across more than 8000 courses provided by 76 education providers, and claims to be at the “forefront of a new wave of online education delivery”.
OpenLearning today also announced the launch of the OpenCreds Investment Fund (OIF) to support education providers in moving their training programs online by utilising the OpenLearning platform and OpenCreds framework.
The OIF will fund the setup and learning design costs for 35 OpenCreds courses, representing an investment of $350,000 from OpenLearning, half of which would be in-kind.
In exchange for the investment, OpenLearning will receive a share of revenue generated from fees paid by students to enrol in the courses and will assist education providers in the marketing of “in-demand” subjects to generate additional revenue.
The OIF will accept applications from private higher education providers, registered training organisations, industry associations and professional bodies and is expected to be fully deployed over the next 12 months.
OpenLearning managing director Adam Brimo said today’s news would be “transformative” for the company.
“We are excited to work with OUA to provide a delivery platform for micro-credentials and to support Australian universities through the jointly-funded OMDG,” he said.
“These initiatives are likely to expand our reach across Australian universities and increase adoption of OpenCreds, for which we aim to become the industry standard for micro-credentials in Australia.
“[We believe we are] ideally placed to benefit from the shift towards online education and the need for people to upskill or reskill.”