Study Online with Flexible University Courses

If you want flexible study, Australia’s online universities have some great options for you. As well as the ability to avoid travelling completely, you can study exactly when it suits you. Flexible online learning allows for year-round study and adjustable weekly schedules.

Unit by Unit, Not Semester Blocks


Flexible study is made possible by a new sequential learning model. Unit-by-unit study is transforming the university experience for online learners, especially for postgraduate students who are balancing study with work.

In the past, online courses followed the traditional on-campus calendar. Students would take up to 4 units at a time in semester blocks lasting 4+ months. That meant juggling multiple subjects and being hit with intense end-of-semester exam stress.

Far greater flexibility is now offered through unit-by-unit study. Online universities are breaking up the academic calendar into 6 study periods of 2 months. Online learners move through their programs sequentially, completing 1 or 2 units every 2 months.

Unit-by-unit online study allows new students to start a program any time of year. The next study period is never more than a couple of months away. Contrast that with traditional degrees, which have one, or maybe two, start times each year.

Unit-by-unit online study also allows you to adjust your study load according to what is happening in the rest of your life. You can take a break for just two months if you want instead of any stop having to go for several months until the next semester begins.

An Adjustable Weekly Schedule

Weekly study schedule

Much of the flexibility of online study comes from the ability to time when you view lectures or work on assignments. Your weekly schedule can be adjusted so that most or all of your learning happens only when convenient.

Online instructors and course designers aren’t stupid. They know that people enroll in their courses because of the convenience of studying online. So, instructors present materials and structure programs to maximise the flexibility factor. Course materials are available to students at all times.

This flexibility even applies to group projects. You have the option to talk on the phone or videoconference with classmates at a mutually convenient time. But emails and messages also work well to keep in touch.

Flexible Online STEM Degrees

Group of postgraduate students

STEM skills can take you anywhere – and now you can gain those skills anywhere, too, with Open Universities Australia’s flexible degrees.

By Brett Szmajda

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that just 18% of the workforce is skilled in science, technology, engineering and maths. But STEM expertise can open doors across a range of industries – as it has for Brenda Frisk.

After completing separate Bachelor degrees in Human Ecology and Education at the University of Manitoba, Canada, and a Master of Arts in Communications Technology with the University of Alberta, she forged a career building business solutions with technology at their core.

“Understand what’s important to people and you’ll create experiences they enjoy and technology that they’re going to use,” says Brenda.

Her most memorable career moments include creating an award-winning multimedia program; pitching 3D business solutions to a global aviation manufacturer while touring its enormous US campus, and working in rural Victoria to optimise a multimillion dollar water utility project designing a mobile application, which won an international award. “Each project brings a very different and exciting experience, which is part of what’s wonderful about working in STEM,“ she explains.

Now the Head of Learning Technology at Open Universities Australia (OUA), Brenda is an advocate for flexible degrees that fit a busy modern lifestyle. Providing the best flexible degrees remotely often requires ‘thinking differently’, she says. For example, rendering 3D models once required a supercomputer, but now students can gain this experience at home using cloud-based computing services on a tablet.

Bianca Braun, who studied a Master of Science in applied statistics through OUA, says being able to study whenever and wherever she wanted was key to finishing her degree. “There’s no way I would have been able to do this otherwise,” she says.

Data from OUA suggests flexible degrees have been particularly enabling for women interested in STEM. In the past three years, OUA has seen a 26% growth in females studying STEM courses, compared with a 16% growth in male numbers.

Like Brenda, Bianca wants to apply her STEM skills in a range of industries. “Every organisation has data,” she says. “My job is to tell the story behind the data.”

A STEM degree equips you with the tools to create solutions across a variety of disciplines. Brenda offers this advice: consider a problem in the world you would like to fix, then use your STEM skills to tackle it.


Online MBA Programs in Australia

A Master of Business (MBA) degree is the most popular postgraduate program in Australia and internationally. And studying online is fast becoming the preferred way to earn this management masters. Here is a guide to online MBA programs in Australia.

Online MBAs are Popular in Australia

Online MBA programs in Australia are as popular as ever and seem to be overtaking the traditional classroom model. According to official enrollment statistics, more Australians study for an MBA online than exclusively attend a campus.

  • An estimated 20,333 Australians studied postgraduate Management and Commerce in 2018 (Extracted from uCube, 23 February 2020).
  • By comparison, 18,533 postgraduate business students were classified as “internal” (or on-campus).
  • Another 3,380 postgraduate business students were in the “mixed-mode” category.

Why are online MBA’s so popular? In short, because they are convenient. You can study anytime from anywhere.

Unsurprisingly, most online MBA students in Australia are working professionals or other busy people who don’t have time to waste. They see the tremendous career advantages of an MBA qualification as worth the challenge of fitting study into their weekly schedule.

Australia’s Best Online MBA Degrees

Modern, flexible and affordable and three of the key qualities that define Australia’s best online MBA programs. That’s according to Online Study Australia, which has ranked the top 3 MBA programs.

Among the best online MBA degrees are the Master of Business Administration (Global) from James Cook University. The program has 3 concentrations: organisational leadership, global perspective and strategy, and data management and analytics.

Also making Online Study Australia’s list is Innovation and Leadership MBA from Ducere Global Business School. Learning is based on doing real online projects in small teams. And the traditional long exam is dispensed with in favour of projects, assignments and quizzes.

Rounding out the top 3 list is the University of Adelaide’s online MBA. As with some other top online MBAs, the program is completed by doing a sequence of units. Students focus on 1 or 2 units at a time, each completed within a series of study blocks of several weeks in length.

Advice for Taking Online MBA Classes

Online MBA classes are difficult, and the culture of online learning differs from the traditional campus programs that most students are used to. Students often find that they have to redefine the way they learn and build new study skills.

Academic advisers normally caution students against underestimating the difficulties of online learning. An online MBA is not any easier or somehow has a smaller workload than other kinds of MBA programs. And students need to be prepared to do the bulk of their learning on their own.

Find out what other online MBA students think

Planning how you will manage online learning is usually preferable to jumping into it nonchalantly. Talking to other online MBA students to find out more about their experiences is a good place to start, and will help you determine if online learning is really the way to go.

For example, online MBA students have reported that “virtual teaming” can be highly beneficial to the learning experience (Kim, Liu and Bonk). Choosing a program that offers this can, therefore, increase your chances of making it to the end.

Develop study strategies

Having strategies to address any academic problems before they arise is a good idea. For example, participating in study groups or online chat sessions with instructors and other students is a good way to guard against apathy.

Sticking to a regular study schedule can also be invaluable to maintaining consistent effort. Even if the university does not require it, this kind of professionalism helps ensures you are able to get your work done on time and achieve learning goals.

Start with a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration

For most MBA programs, you can start by studying for a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration. In Australia, this is a 4-unit courses that typically represents a third of the full MBA program. Entry requirements are lower and you can often be admitted even if you lack a university degree (but have professional experience).

The advantage of doing a Grad Cert is that you can test if an online MBA program is really for you. If it’s not, you can leave after 4 units with new skills and a recognised qualification.


PhD Student Lifestyle Experience

I’ve got to admit that the lifestyle of a PhD student can be great. If you enjoy quiet, leisurely days of reading, researching and writing, the doctoral experience can bring joy, inner peace and a general feeling of calmness.

But there’s most to it than that and, if you don’t stay focused, you can easily waste a year, or two or three of your life. PhD success is about balancing the fun side of learning with the task at hand: writing your defensible thesis.

The PhD Lifestyle Begins

Welcome back to the world of academia. You have successfully gone through all the hurdles to get started on the journey of becoming a Doctor of Philosophy.

You have chosen your area of study, applied to a PhD position, chosen a supervisor, outlined your thesis and hopefully have a scholarship or other form of financial aid. You might be wondering “Now that I’m in, what’s the lifestyle as a PhD student?”

Pleasure (and Some Reality)

In what often turns out to be fiction, PhD students are depicted as free souls exploring the world. They are frequently seen lounging around beautiful university spaces, reading books with interesting titles. They look completely relaxed, fully enjoying the life of commitment to knowledge.

“I no longer believe in this romantic ideal of scholarly life”, Charlie Pullen, an English PhD student, reports: “the reality of doing a PhD is not one of living in a care-free bubble. It is, in fact, a demanding way of spending your time.”

Charlie is right. PhD supervisors usually aim for the degree to be completed in three to four years. To make this happen, students report working from 35 to 70 hours weekly. Depending on the field of study, here’s what you can expect:

  • Working on your own project (thesis), which can determine where and at what times you work;
  • Organize meetings, send reports, ask for feedback and clear doubts with your PhD supervisor so he or she can keep up with your progress;
  • Networking: going to conferences, workshops, and events to absorb as much relevant knowledge as possible;
  • Documenting your work: you have to keep track of your research and every step you took while working on your project;
  • Teach classes, grade papers from undergraduate students and take other responsibilities related to the university;

Although it looks like a lot, it is possible to achieve academia-life balance, even while working part-time or full-time to cover some of the costs. You are able to discuss your workload with your supervisor, and find a good plan and schedule to get things done.

Your Own Pace

The responsibility of successfully completing the degree lies with the student. As a result, the expectations set can be too unforgiving.

We would like to be in the library from 8 am to 5 pm every day, working on the thesis at all times, publish research papers (and maybe even a book!), earn teaching awards, organize and speak in conferences and be on good terms with all the revered members of the university community. This can lead to a very stressful life.

Jenny Mak, an English and Comparative Literary Studies PhD student tells us that “achieving these goals isn’t ‘Mission Impossible’, but the timeframe within which we’re assumed to get them done is unrealistic and places much undue stress on us.”

A great part of completing a PhD successfully is recognizing this issue and taking things step by step. It is necessary to plan what is going to be done when, and managing the daily stress, as the duties will always pile up and seem to take a long time to get done.

Tips for Succeeding with Your Learning Experience

Nuclear scientist Floriana Salvemini shares her top tips for PhD students.

1. Time management is incredibly important! Check if your university offers courses or guides on how to organise a PhD project.

2. Conferences are a great venue to network, learn about developments in your field and promote your research – plus they offer a chance to travel somewhere different.

3. Don’t forget to make professional and personal connections. Remember, a PhD isn’t just about the actual project. The various people you meet along the way are equally as significant.

Final Thoughts on PhD Studies

Working towards a PhD, despite being very challenging and involving a lot of hard work, is a very rewarding experience. It is the path of mastery towards a specific topic of study, which will not only increase your knowledge but might also open up more fulfilling career opportunities.

Don’t be discouraged by the negatives! Most scholars find that the advantages greatly outweigh the challenges.


UTS MBA in Entrepreneurship

The UTS Business School Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship (MBAe) is a unique 12 month intensive MBA designed for entrepreneurs and innovators.

  • Think like an entrepreneur through working on live projects;
  • Understand what makes your entrepreneurial venture successful;
  • You’re enabled to take your business ideas up to venture capital grade.

How the MBA in Entrepreneurship Works

The MBA in Entrepreneurship at UTS is uniquely constructed as three short courses. You can choose how, when and what you need to know whilst developing, with increasing confidence, your own enterprise ideas.

The MBAe helps you gain the necessary skills, meet the right people and develop your entrepreneurial project. It is for people who have ideas and want to see them through either as a start-up entrepreneur or as a change agent in existing organisations.

Dr Jochen Schweitzer, Program Director, MBA in Entrepreneurship

Why UTS Business School?

UTS has a strong reputation in innovation and creativity among global leaders, with a ten-year vision to be a world leader in innovation and creative intelligence research and teaching. As one of the world’s top 10 young universities, you can be assured of a learning environment that is both world-class and tailored to the needs of each MBAe cohort.

Agile, adaptive, applied

We understand that undertaking the MBAe is a significant commitment, not just financially but of your time, and we know you don’t want to put your life on hold while you study. Our subjects allow you to apply tomorrow what you learn today, and to give you the skills to adapt this to meet the unknown challenges of the future.

Position, position, position

The Ultimo precinct has evolved into Australia’s largest and most vibrant creative digital hub. UTS is surrounded by Australia’s highest concentration of startups, creative firms, large technology, media, education and corporate partners, the ABC and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. All connected by The Goods Line running through the heart of the southern Sydney CBD.


Postgraduate Support Services

Postgraduate support services mean you don’t have to go it alone.

Doing postgraduate studies, particularly a Masters by Research or a PHD, can be isolating. But there are plenty of networks, postgraduate support groups and helpful products out there to help you complete your work, share strategies, or even just talk to someone who you can relate to.

Your university is a good starting point. Universities offer postgraduate support services for students, like counselling, courses through the libraries and graduate student groups. Some also provide social media platforms and apps to connect students. Ask the careers centre, student services and your faculty office to find out what’s available.

The growth of social media means there are also plenty of other online communities, blogs and social media platforms out there for postgraduate students, giving you helpful advice and resources. These include the Thesis WhispererResearch Degree Insiders#PhD chat and Research Whisperer. Plus, social media platforms like Twitter can give you a platform to promote your own research.

Another way to connect with your fellow students and get some work done is Shut Up and Write! – writing workshops (with no talking) that can be held on or near a university campus, or even virtually. And every November is Academic Writing Month – a whole month dedicated to improving your writing productivity.

Other handy tools for your studies include apps, like the handwriting app Penultimate for scribbling your thoughts and Things for to-do lists. For iPhone and iPad users, Outliner assists you in organising your thoughts when writing papers. Google Drive and Dropbox allows you to access your papers when you’re not at your desk, My Weekly Budget helps you manage your cash… there are plenty out there, so check the online communities and blogs, and ask your fellow students to see what they recommend!


UTS Research Focus Areas

UTS has committed to applied innovation and developing high-impact research. The University aims to produce research that benefits Australian industry and the wider community. Ultimately, UTS research activities are about helping to shape the world we occupy positively.

As part of the University’s research strategy, UTS has chosen to build research capacity and performance in five focus areas. These are aligned with the overall UTS vision: to be a world-leading university of technology. The five focus areas are health, data science, sustainability, future work and industry, and social futures.

1. Health

UTS focuses on translational and social justice in the University’s health research. UTS remains strongly engaged with the health sector, industry participants, health practitioners and the global medical and health research community.

2. Data Science

Data science and big data analytics represent an emerging field of ongoing significance. The focus area encompasses the data science theories and, notably, applying data science techniques across the dimensions of human endeavour.

3. Sustainability

The University’s sustainability research extends to all faculties, covering both in-depth disciplinary and cutting edge trans-disciplinary research. Individuals subjects includes cleaner energy, urban city futures, climate change adjustment, water management, food production and distribution, and using natural resources.

4. Future Work and Industry

Understanding technology and social changes to work arrangements and production globally is vital. The future quality of everyday life and the economic prosperity of Australia are technology dependent. Research in this area happens in the context of new industries emerging and others adapting to evolving conditions.

5. Social Futures

Research into Social Futures at UTS is influenced by increasingly complex societies. Especially relevant are the technology-driven changes in Australian and overseas communities.

UTS Research Centres

UTS has research hubs and centres across the University. In addition, UTS collaborates in joint research centres with foreign universities and in large joint research programs. Some noteworthy examples are ARC Centres of Research Excellence and the Cooperative Research Centres.


Executive MBA Postgraduate Salaries

Graduates of Executive MBA programs who participated in the Executive MBA Council Student Exit Survey reported increases in their salary and bonus packages from the start to the end of their programs.

In 2010, the average salary and bonus amounts of students in the survey rose 11.4 percent from the start to end of the program, compared to 9.4 percent in 2009. Students’ average salary and bonus package at the start of their EMBA programs was $127,955, increasing to $142,534 by the end of the program.

The Executive MBA Council conducts the Student Exit Benchmarking Survey to track the perceptions and opinions of EMBA program graduates and to help measure the return on investment of the degree. The survey included 3,674 students from 116 programs.

In addition, 37% of students in the survey reported receiving promotions and 68% reported receiving new responsibilities during their time in the program.

“Executive MBA students continue to do well in this challenging economy,” says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council. “Survey data shows the return on investment for EMBA students remains significant.”

Graduates in the survey hang about loyal supporters of the EMBA experience. The survey’s loyalty index helps demonstrate participating students’ satisfaction with their program. The loyalty index is a combination of students’ rankings of program quality (8.4 on a 10-point scale), students’ willingness to recommend their program to a colleague or friend (8.8); and the likelihood of supporting the program as alumni (8.2).

“The loyalty index shows that EMBA students continue to be satisfied with their programs and education experience,” says Desiderio. “It also shows that alumni are willing to stay involved with programs.”

To help prospective students search and compare MBA programs worldwide, the Executive MBA Council recently launched the council’s 300 member programs by geographic location, specialty, start date, program length or tuition. Each program summary includes a brief description and a link to the program’s website.

About the Executive MBA Council

The Executive MBA Council provides a forum for programs to share best practices and gathers industry data for member use. Survey analysis was conducted by Percept Research, an independent market research firm and the council’s research partner.