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The University of New England excels in setting their future students up for success

Driving engagement amongst students who had received an early offer for undergraduate studies
Driving engagement amongst students who had received an early offer for undergraduate studies

More than doubled

their conversion rate from offer to commencement in UNE's pilot progam

Generated 300+

Comments and interactions within the OpenLearning platform

Developed 5

high quality lessons

A total of 360

unique enrolments across UNE courses as of November 2021
The University of New England (UNE) identified a need for a solution to engage with students who had received an early offer for undergraduate studies. Considering their students are often from remote and regional areas, they wanted to develop a program that addressed the challenges unique to their learners.

University of New England drives growth in conversion rate of offers to enrolments

The Challenge

According to the Regional Universities Network, students at universities in regional areas face unique challenges compared to their metropolitan counterparts. People from regional and remote areas are:

  • Less than half as likely to gain a bachelor and above qualification by the time they are 35 years old
  • 40 per cent less likely to gain a higher-level tertiary education qualification

Therefore, the distinct challenge for the University of New England (UNE) is to provide a higher level of engagement and support pre-arrival for students given that they are more likely to have additional barriers to learning than metro students.

Project Goals

The Schools of Science and Technology, and Environmental and Rural Science enrol approximately one third of the offers that are made for UNE each year. It was identified that an opportunity exists to increase this conversion rate through early engagement of prospective students.

UNE partnered with OpenLearning to develop the Boosting Science Pathways program in an effort to achieve three main goals:

  • To increase the conversion rate from offers to commencement;
  • To better prepare future students for their studies at UNE; and
  • To encourage the development of a supportive, social network of future students entering the School of Science and Technology, and Environment and Rural Science program at UNE.
UNE's portal landing page


In collaboration with OpenLearning, UNE developed the Boosting Science Pathways course. The Boosting Science Pathways course targets students seeking STEM qualification that have limited discipline background or a lower than required ATAR score for desired course enrolment. It is not assumed that they have any science background from their previous studies.

This includes:

  • School leavers and students from a wide variety of backgrounds who have recently completed their Year 12 studies;
  • Those who have come from other disciplines of study; or,
  • Those been in the workforce in a wide diversity of employment and experiences.

The Boosting Science Pathways program has been developed to enhance future students’ understanding of what university learning in the sciences entails and smooths entry into tertiary education.

UNE's Boosting Science Pathways program on the OpenLearning platform

The goal of the program for students is to:

  • Develop an appreciation of scientific phenomena, and build skills related to the collection and interpretation of scientific knowledge;
  • Enhance their capacity to evaluate the quality of scientific information;
  • Develop skills in critically evaluating alternative conceptions of scientific phenomena; and
  • Assists in helping students build a university-oriented headspace.

UNE's Boosting Science Pathways Learning Community (Nov 2021)

Furthermore, by developing a program that employs a social constructivist approach to learning design, the program also fosters a community of practice whereby students work together to:

  • Share experiences and ideas;
  • Co-construct knowledge; and,
  • Develop a social network that eases their nerves before they arrive on-campus for the start of their course.


As a result of the pilot Boosting Science Pathway program, participation increased substantially from 30% (2018/19) to 61% rate of acceptance, a 103% YoY growth in conversion rates of offers to enrolments. A significant number of these students had completed >90% of the course.

As of November 2021, there were 347 personal interactions in the form of comments between students. These comments coincided with activities where students were expected to share an artefact of learning and seek feedback.

‍The social constructivist pedagogy used in the development of this course encourages these interactions, where students have an opportunity to co-construct knowledge in a community of practice.

Of which, the program has been overwhelmingly positive amongst the students with given testimonials provided by UNE:

“[It] has been a great little introduction into beginning uni. It has refreshed previous knowledge and has introduced me to new ways of learning. It is building my excitement to get stuck into my degree.”

“[It] has taught me and helped me understand difficult concepts that are hard to explain. It has developed my understanding and knowledge to be able to explain different ideas and concepts in a number of ways. The simple yet effective explanations and definitions captured my attention and engaged me to learn. I enjoyed this module and also the activities really helped developed what was learnt.”

Moving Forward

Realising the possibilities of scalable and on-demand online learning, the pilot Boosting Science Programs has since been embedded in UNE101 and made available to all students offered a place in courses presented by the School of Science & Technology and the School of Environmental and Rural Sciences (Source: Pulse News 2020).

Looking for an end-to-end solution that can drive engagement for your students? OpenLearning can help. Get in touch today.

The University of New England (UNE)

The University of New England (UNE) is a public university in Australia with approximately 22,500 higher education students. Its original and main campus is located in the city of Armidale in northern central New South Wales. UNE was the first Australian university established outside a state capital city.




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'The budget for this project was made relatively low in order to support the UNE funding limitations. The project came in slightly under budget, but the extra time available has been used in ongoing support of the UNE team and the course. This included the creation of a short, abridged version of the course that was used to help attract students."
Adrienne Burns
Lecturer in Biology - School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England

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