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Boost Your International Student Numbers with MOOCs

January 29, 2020

Chris Hall, Business Development Director
Strawberry Solutions

If your organisation trains CRICOS students, or has overseas campuses, there’s a treasure trove of opportunity in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are free online courses that allow students to gain micro-credentials, in order to build a valuable skill-set and reach higher education. They’re also a great way to develop relationships with prospective students, while taking your brand to the global stage.

International students are big business for Australia. Our government tallied over 350,000 international students in higher education in 2015, with roughly a third of those enrolled in offshore programs[1]. This makes offshore programs highly relevant, and shows transnational education (TNE) to be feeding a third of the entire higher education market for international students. MOOCs can be a great way to take advantage of this huge market.

The Wicking Dementia Centre at the University of Tasmania did exactly that. Their MOOC courses boast over 300,000 enrolments from 179 countries, and a whopping 85,000 followers on social media. Wow!

Wicking Dementia Centre MOOC Statistics[2]

The Wicking Dementia Centre know that students around the world are looking for a way into Australia and higher education, and that micro-credentials obtained from MOOCs are a suitable first step. As more MOOC online courses are completed, and the student’s portfolio of micro-credentials grows, they can then take the next step and complete their CRICOS application, putting them on a path to studying in Australia. By offering free MOOC learning, training organisations create stepping stones for their prospective students, making it easier to realise their dream of getting into university. Put yourself in the shoes of an international student—if you knew that MOOC courses were free, and improved your chances of getting to university in Australia, wouldn’t you do it?

Micro-credentials are becoming more popular in the education industry, especially with the emergence of international badging standards, such as Open Badges by Badgr. Once obtained, these badges/micro-credentials can be used in stackable pathways (learning paths leading to certain careers), with the ability to use the credentials in any number of suitable pathways in the future.

Here is an example of a pathway for an international student, obtaining badges to reach university:

Badge pathway for an international student reaching university

The example above is just for a single badge, but more badges can open up a range of stackable pathways, giving the student plenty of career options. Open Badges have been designed to be portable across a range of systems, from learning management systems, transnational education systems, CRICOS colleges, and even universities. Their portable nature means that whenever the student progresses to another stage in their education, the badges move with them to the new system.

Typically slow off the mark, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is catching up with the micro-credential/badge trend, promising to revise their guidelines for credit recognition for AQF qualifications, to include micro-credentials[3]. While they may not be fully caught up yet, change is coming.

Many CRICOS colleges hire agents to recruit their students, armed with prospectuses and other selling techniques. What if your college could empower your agents by giving prospective students something valuable to achieve? Something tangible to work through, with a micro-credential as the outcome? This is what a MOOC can do.

Need some professional help?

Strawberry Solutions are experts in the education sector, and accredited in both aXcelerate and Canvas. We can help you implement MOOC education and badges/micro-credentials into your business. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat.

Contact Strawberry Solutions
Tel: 02 9054 1292 


  1. 2016, “Transnational education in the higher education sector”, Australian Government
  2. About Wicking Dementia Centre”, utas.edu.au
  3. 2019, “Review of the Australian Qualifications Framework Final Report 2019”, Australian Qualifications Framework

Helpful links

  1. Getting started with Badgr in Canvas

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