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University of Australia Online: a vision for a better educated Australia

By Michael Lee - posted Thursday, 15 March 2001

In 1999, the ALP commissioned a detailed report on the workforce of the future. Released in February last year, the Workforce 2010 study forecast that 40% of the new jobs of the next decade will go to people with bachelor degrees or higher qualifications. If Australia is to secure the future jobs, we need to increase access to university.

Workforce 2010 stresses the importance of investing in education, training and innovation as the key to reducing structural unemployment. The Coalition government, which tries to portray itself as a good economic manager, is actually threatening major damage to Australia’s future by continuing to treat investment in skills as a drain on the budget. Its recent "Innovation Statement" largely consisted of reinstating measures which it had axed, and putting back some of the funding it had previously cut.

A Beazley Labor Government will give the highest priority to making Australia a Knowledge Nation. Labor will increase substantially the national government’s investment in education, training and research. We will provide more opportunities for Australians to participate in the skills development our country needs to manage and benefit from technological change.


We have already announced policies to double the number of research fellowships and to introduce a new category of elite fellowships.

Labor’s Vision

In January this year at the National Press Club, Kim Beazley announced that Labor would establish the University of Australia Online (UAO).

We have two goals for the UAO:

  • to make Australia a world leader in online education; and
  • to have 100,000 Australian undergraduate students studying through the UAO by 2010.

HECS fees will be halved for online study, encouraging students to enrol for online courses.


Universities will be encouraged to offer online courses by funding a Content Development Program to assist with the high upfront development costs and providing a new payment to existing universities for each undergraduate Australian online student.

Some have incorrectly assumed the University of Australia Online will be a new "bricks and mortar" university. It is more an institution which will be a gateway or portal to the 38 existing public universities which will design and deliver most courses.

Students will be able to obtain online degrees from the primary provider university while also having access to online units at other universities through the UAO.

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About the Author

Michael Lee MP was the Shadow Minister for Education and Federal Labor Member for Dobell (NSW) before the 2001 Federal Election.

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