Thursday, March 15, 2018

Australia's Largest University Hidden

In "Australia doesn’t have too many universities. Here’s why" (The Conversation, 15 March 2018), , Adjunct professor, RMIT University, compares enrollments of Australia, Canadian and UK universities. He concludes that the average Australian university has twice as many students as the UK and triple Canada. However, the distribution of students amongst students at Australian universities differs from Canada and the UK, and our largest institution does not appear in the lists.

Australia has an almost even spread of small, medium and large universities. Canada has many more small institutions and a few very large ones. The University of Toronto is about 50% larger than the next largest. The UK statistics are dominated by the Open University UK (OUUK). 

The closest Australian equivalent to the OUUK is Open Universities Australia (OUA). The students in the OUA consortium are usually hidden in the statistics of the member universities. If counted as a university, OUA would rival Melbourne as the largest in Australia.

As Gavin Moodie writes, a university with less than 10,000 students would have difficulty providing the range of teaching and research required. However, OUA provides an alternative model. Australia doesn't have to make a choice between small and large universities. Universities can cooperate to make better use of shared resources, while retaining an identity, local presence and brand.

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