The More Diverse Potential Student Market

Dr Kay LipsonMelbourne (AU), November 2017 – Dr Kay Lipson is currently the Executive Director at Growth Initiatives for Online Education Services (OES).  Founded in 2010, OES is a public-private partnership with SEEK, who have matched over 150,000 students with their ideal course, and Swinburne University of Technology, a pioneer in online education with over 20 years’ experience. In Session IMP 33, 07 December from 16.15 to 17.30, she will debate the question of "Higher Education Strategy: Putting Learners First?"

What does your organization’s "Higher Education Strategy" look like?

Dr Kay Lipson: The strategy of Online Education Services (OES) is to work alongside a university partner, translating the value proposition of that university into an equivalent one for a fully online student.  OES offers services across the whole student lifecycle, including marketing and recruitment, learning design, online teaching, and student support.  The resulting high-quality, high-touch learning and teaching model opens up new market segments for the university partner, particularly mature-age and non-traditional students, who generally require flexibility if they are to participate in higher education, as well as those who are across geographic boundaries.

This strategy acknowledges that each of the partners (OES and the university) have differing strengths that can be leveraged.  Inherent in the OES strategy is the flexibility to tailor a subset of services that complement the partner university’s existing capabilities.

Are there regular reviews of the strategy, and is it modified if found necessary?

Dr Kay Lipson: At OES we review our strategy annually, identifying short (1 year), medium (2-3 years), and long-term (5 years or more) opportunities, and validating that the assumptions that underpinned the company strategy we are holding over time.  As well, and just as importantly, we review the OES strategy as our partner’s needs change or clarify.  For example, the majority owner of OES is Seek Pty Ltd, one of the largest job boards in the world, with access to a wide range of employer and a wealth of employment data.  OES is now working with their university partners to leverage this relationship, informing course development choices and strengthening employment options for graduates.

What do you see as the strategy’s advantages and disadvantages?

Dr Kay Lipson:

  • OES offers the university partners access to a broader and more diverse potential student market through a differently targeted recruitment strategy, as well as the innovation and agility to ensure that the university will enter the online market quickly with a high-quality and engaging program suite.
  • Speed and agility can be achieved through the partnership that would be difficult for a university to accomplish if all functions were totally in-house.
  • The strategy leverages the core strengths of each partner and capability growth results across each entity individually as well as across the collaboration.


What types of concrete impact does the strategy have on individual learners?

Dr Kay Lipson: The educational experience for OES students is designed totally to meet online-student needs, from enrolment to graduation. This single, customer-centric focus ensures optimal student experience and successful educational outcomes.

Perhaps even more significant, though, is the access to opportunity that is provided to non-traditional students through access to high-quality online higher education programs. This is a life-changing experience for students who previously - for a whole range of reasons - were unable (or unwilling) to complete a degree.