Orange is leading the state for the first time when it comes to regional enrolments for online courses through Open Universities Australia.
Among the students from Orange is Harley Stedman who started a Bachelor of Behavioural Studies with the online learning provider at the beginning of the year and currently works 70 hours a week at the Lyndon drug and alcohol withdrawal unit and LiveBetter, formerly known as CareWest.
However, about a month ago he changed from the six-year course to a Bachelor of Business Studies which he spends about 15 hours a week studying.
“I work full-time and I also have a casual job so being able to study on campus wasn’t something I could do,” Mr Stedman said.
“I’d also done online diplomas through [Open Training Education Network], which is online TAFE and I didn’t do too badly with that.”
The 21-year-old said because he is a shift worker he would not have been able to go to a campus to study during the week.
“People often think it’s daunting studying online but there’s plenty of support out there, they give you a tutor, they give you a phone number and you can talking to someone over the phone and they do lectures online so you are not just left to do it yourself,” Mr Stedman said.
I work full-time and I also have a casual job so being able to study on campus wasn’t something I could do.Harley Stedman
Although more students have enroled from Orange this year, for the past three years Port Macquarie as had the most enrolments in regional NSW.
A spokeswoman from Online Universities Australia said a quarter of students came from regional areas.
She said according to internal data, Orange, Port Macquarie and Goulburn make up the leading regional areas in NSW.
“Given the government’s recently announced review on the gap between higher education levels in regional and city areas, it’s promising to see that Orange is leading the way with uptake in higher education online,” she said.
“The most popular courses in Orange are the Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Bachelor of Behavioural Studies.
“In the three year period, enrolment numbers within Orange have fluctuated up and down slightly so whilst there hasn’t been a steady dramatic growth, if we compare 2014 to 2016, there were an additional 39 students enrolled from the area last year.”