Online universities post huge profits as more students move online

Online universities will earn $4.9 billion in the 2014-15 financial year, as more tertiary students study for degrees over the Internet.

According to IBISWorld, the industry, known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are slowly catching up to traditional universities, who are expected to post revenue of $28.2 billion during the same period.

MOOCs have enjoyed annualised growth of 11.6% over the past five years, a significantly greater figure than the 3.7% growth posted by higher education providers as a whole.

The shift towards online degrees has resulted in the online education industry outperforming some of Australia’s oldest universities. IBISWorld expects the University of Melbourne, one the largest higher learning institutions in Australia, to slightly underperform the industry over the five years through 2014-15.

While many traditional universities are rejecting the rise of online, others are embracing it, such as Open Universities Australia (OUA) which is supported by Monash University, RMIT University, La Trobe University and Curtin University.

OUA has grown strongly over the past five years, with estimated annualised growth of 20.5% and has also secured contracts to provide training to major organisations including NAB, Westpac and the Australian Defence Force.