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Curtin University
Transforming Learning at Curtin

Curtin to expand international education markets

12 March 2014

Curtin University is launching flagship courses in business, engineering, humanities and health sciences to export its teaching excellence to the world and tap into the multi-billion-dollar international education market.

The target was to engage one million learners globally by 2017, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education Professor Jill Downie said.

A suite of flagship courses chosen for their growth potential in targeted markets will lead the University’s ambitious expansion plans, with more flagships to follow.

Over the next three years Curtin will transform its top 200 courses, leveraging technology to erase geographic boundaries and enable students worldwide to experience Curtin’s new model of teaching excellence.

“We are an international university, and we have aggressive global expansion plans that will capitalise on Western Australia’s GMT+8 time-zone, which enables richly interactive, synchronous learning across much of Asia, India and Africa as well as regional and metropolitan Australia,” Professor Downie said.

“The new Curtin model includes a mix of face-to-face and online teaching, and actively engages students through flipped classes, technology-enriched environments, distributed learning techniques and telepresence technology such as high-end video and 3D virtual world scenarios.

“This model builds on the global focus already achieved through more than 50 online courses, with 30,000 enrolments, as well as established campuses in Singapore and Malaysia, and our Australian campuses in Sydney, Kalgoorlie and Margaret River.”

Technology dissolved boundaries created by distance and geography, Professor Downie said. More than 17,000 international students attended Curtin’s Bentley Campus in 2013 but until now travel, living costs, time away from family and other personal commitments, as well as classroom availability, have restricted many students.

“The global education arena, like many industries, is facing dramatic change. Emerging technologies are overwhelming traditional models of education, redefining long held concepts of knowledge and universities worldwide are grappling with the potential impacts,” Professor Downie said.

“Through technology, students now have unprecedented choice for education, well beyond conventional geographically-constrained domestic markets. The challenge for universities is how they embrace that technological change while still remaining relevant as places of higher learning, able to attract, retain and teach students within the framework of a business model that ensures ongoing growth and financial stability.

“Curtin’s strategy is designed to address students who seek an on-campus student experience as well as those who want to study at a time, place and pace convenient to them.”

Professor Downie said Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were a key feature of Curtin’s strategy.

“Curtin has already embraced Learning for Tomorrow with the launch of its first MOOC in 2013 in partnership with Open2Study,” Professor Downie said.

“The Astronomy MOOC gained some excellent results, both in terms of take-up and completion rates and continues to be offered on a four-week rotation, already having attracted more than 6,000 students.

“Mid-last year we also launched the Australia China Trade MOOC which is now offered in Chinese as well as English and just last week we released our latest MOOC, aimed at teachers and parents, called Participating in the Digital Age. This MOOC is also linked to our education degree programs.

“MOOCs succeed because technology enables cost-effective access at global scale. They are wide, uncluttered roads to learning, enabling easy travel for learners.”

Beyond MOOCs, students are already demanding more technology-supported learning at Curtin. Throughout 2013, Curtin learners accessed 1.7 million I-lectures, an increasing number from a mobile device - either a smartphone or tablet.

“Technology is transforming our world at an incredible pace. Computer technology now comes in a wearable form and it is only a matter of time before implantables, already being trialled in some American companies, become commonplace,” Professor Downie said.

“Connectivity and engagement now determine success in a range of endeavours. You can't provide the access without making the destination interesting and challenging.

“Just as businesses must keep up with their customers, educational institutions, schools, must keep up with their students.

“The key is to keep both parties actively engaged and personally connected despite the physical distance.”