Partnerships & Distance Education

uImagine was the host for a think tank exploring Partnerships and the Business of Distance Education held on the Wagga Wagga Campus.

Scope & Overview

The growth of university partnerships, particularly public- private partnerships (PPPs) has created new opportunities for institutions to leverage increased capacity, minimise financial and reputational risks and increase their competitive advantage in a rapidly increasing marketplace. Moreover, institutions with quality online and distance learning capacity are leveraging new options for building innovative new approaches to strategic alliances and collaborations.

This Think Tank will explored existing CSU partnership models through an open dialogue of the strengths and limitations of current partnerships. The focus of this Think Tank was on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) partnerships given CSU’s increasing (66%+ students) growth and positioning in the online market. Two global experts also shared their unique experiences for building sustainable partnerships that result in value-added benefits for the institution and its partners.  Discussions took place around the key questions related to CSU’s partnership strategy in the online and distance learning market including:

  1. What are the parameters for CSU engagement in external public and private ODL partnerships?  What type of organisations does CSU want to partner? Why?
  2. What criteria will be used to assess the viability of potential ODL partnerships?
  3. What are the priority KPIs that CSU will target to assess and measure partnership effectiveness?
  4. What are the key risk-reward scenarios driving CSU partnerships?
  5. What are the value propositions for CSU and for potential partners for various partnership scenarios in ODL?


  • Online Education Business Framework

  • Education Reform - Sir John Daniel

  • The New Landscape - Sir John Daniel


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Sir John Daniel

Former President of The Commonwealth of Learning

Sir John Daniel’s work has been recognised with national honours by the three countries in which he has lived - France – Ordre des Palmes Académiques: Chevalier ‘pour services rendus à la culture française (en Ontario)’ (1986); Officier: ‘pour services rendus à la culture française (au Royaume-Uni)’ (1991); United Kingdom – Knight Bachelor ‘for services to higher education’ (1994); Canada – Officer of the Order of Canada ‘for his advancement of open learning and distance education in Canada and around the world’ (2013).

He was educated at Christ’s Hospital and then obtained a First in Metallurgy at Oxford and the Doctorat ès-Sciences Physiques at the University of Paris. Later he demonstrated his commitment to lifelong learning by taking 25 years to complete a part-time Master’s degree in Educational Technology at Sir George Williams/Concordia University. The internship for that programme, which took him to the UK Open University in 1972, was a life-changing experience. He saw the future of higher education and wanted to be part of it.

This quest took him on an international odyssey with appointments at the École Polytechnique, Université de Montréal (professeur assistant/ agrégé, 1969-73); Télé-université, Université du Québec (Directeur des Études, 1973-77); Athabasca University (Vice-President for Learning Services, 1978-80); Concordia University (Vice-Rector, Academic, 1980- 84); Laurentian University (President/Recteur, 1984-90); The Open University (Vice-Chancellor, 1990-2001); UNESCO (Assistant Director- General for Education, 2001-04); and the Commonwealth of Learning (President, 2004-12).

He now works on various international projects as Education Master in the Beijing DeTao Masters Academy, China,

  • Senior Advisor to Academic Partnerships International;
  • Research Associate at Contact North, Contact Nord;
  • and Chair, pro bono, of the UWC (United World Colleges) International Board.

Among Sir John’s 350+ publications are his books Mega-Universities and Knowledge Media Technology Strategies for Higher Education (Kogan Page, 1996) and Mega-Schools, Technology and Teachers Achieving Education for All (Routledge, 2010).

Sir John is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford University (1990), the College of Preceptors (1997) and the Commonwealth of Learning (2002). He won the Symons Medal of the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 2008 and his 32 honorary degrees are from universities in 17 countries.


Michael Crock


Michael has over 30 years higher education, management and consulting experience, including extensive involvement in the strategic development and operationalisation of teaching and learning initiatives across multiple organisations, significant involvement with the commercialisation of higher education products and services, as well as additional relevant professional work experience in industry and working with local, state and federal government organisations. Michael has held senior academic and management positions at The University of Queensland, Central Queensland University, Griffith University, Open Universities Australia, and most recently at the University of New England as the Pro Vice Chancellor Educational Innovation and International. He has also served as the CEO of STARLIT, one of six original Australian national co-operative multimedia companies initially established under federal government funding. Specific major responsibilities have included the strategic development, management, promotion, design, development, implementation, support, and evaluation of:

  • national and international degree programs and associated services
  • recruitment and retention strategies, pathways and transition programs
  • student administrative systems and protocols, including undergraduate and postgraduate application and enrolment protocols
  • institutional academic staff development programs integrated
  • instructional technology systems and sub-systems.

Michael is currently working as an International Consultant in higher education, with a particular focus on working with organisations regarding strategies and opportunities for growing sustainable online education solutions.


Heather Cavanaugh

Pro-Vice Chancellor, CSU

Professor Cavanagh has a long history in developing and supporting International Education at CSU having held positions of Sub Dean International, Associate Dean (Deputy Dean) and Acting Executive Dean of Science prior to her appointment as the inaugural Pro-Vice Chancellor (International Education and Partnerships). Over many years Professor Cavanagh has been instrumental in leading and developing off-shore programs, developing and maintaining strong relationships with international institutions and developing partnerships and pathways for domestic and international students. Professor Cavanagh has overseen a dramatic increase in student mobility (outward bound), successfully internationalised curriculum at both course and subject level, developed successful articulation pathways from strategic partners to CSU degrees, facilitated international accreditation and established successful Diploma to Degree pathways for international students. In addition, Professor Cavanagh has facilitated the development of productive research partnerships resulting in joint funding, publications and staff exchange in Europe, North America and Asia. This love of tertiary education has continued into her academic roles at Charles Sturt University. As Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Cavanagh is actively working to establish Charles Sturt University as a global leader in higher education and the leading provider of on-line education in Canada, Asia and Australasia thus providing people around the world opportunity to study.


Liz Smith

Director Academic Success, CSU

After working in K-6, special education and TAFE settings, Liz joined CSU 20 years ago as an educational designer (online). Responsible for the pilot of the first 12 CSU online subjects, Liz worked collaboratively with DIT, faculty and student support to begin the paradigm shift from print based to online education. Since this time Liz has continued her involvement in online education in a wide variety of roles including teaching and learning, staff development, student services and major projects (e.g. e2, Transition, HEPPP). Currently the Director Academic Success & Strategic Practice Leader Distance Education, Liz is responsible for student aspiration, bridging and enabling, academic literacy and numeracy, Indigenous access and support and career development. Liz acts as Head of School in relation to the STUDY LINK and Diploma of General Studies programs.

Liz’s work has been recognised through a Vice Chancellors Award, and at the national level with an ASCILITE Award, 2 ALTC citations and a national University Teaching/Program Award. Liz has been a team member of several national strategic priority projects including Effective Teaching and Support of Students from LSES Backgrounds, In Their Own Words - the Experiences of First Time Distance Learners and currently, Shaping the 21st Century Student Experience in Regional Universities. Liz is an OLT grants and awards assessor, a member of the organising committee and SIG Convenor for the Unistars conference and a reviewer for the International Journal of the First Year Experience.

Gaye Krebs

Courses Director, CSU

Dr Gaye Krebs is Courses Director in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and was the team leader in the design, development and introduction in 2015 of the new Bachelor of Veterinary Technology. In Australia the current nationally accepted qualification for veterinary support staff is a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. This vocational level of education is below the international standards (for veterinary paraprofessionals) of the USA, Canada and UK. CSU saw the opportunity to establish a niche market for better prepared, work-ready veterinary paraprofessionals. Industry feedback was that graduates from the Bachelor of Veterinary Technology should have as a base line all of the skills and competencies of a veterinary nurse. Consequently we articulated (from the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing) and integrated courses offered by Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE (GOTAFE), with teaching of the new degree the responsibility of both CSU and GOTAFE.

Martin Hale

IT Masters

Martin Hale has over 25 years’ experience developing and implementing innovative education solutions. These include as CEO of IT Masters, partnered with CSU to develop & market an innovative range of Masters Degrees that resulted in a 340% increase in enrolments and moved CSU from Australia’s 16th to largest provider of domestic postgraduate IT courses. While at Australia’s leading commercial IT education provider (Dimension Data) developed a range of unique training products that eventually contributed $10.4ml in revenue. Managed all facets of the introduction of these products from development of the initial concept right through until the products were successfully established in the marketplace. As an executive in Telstra learning he was selected to head up a team to review all training activities across Telstra. The review involved working with senior management across Telstra and resulted in significant improvements including a corporate wide reduction of $19.2ml in Telstra’s training expenditure.


Jason Howarth

Course Director, CSU

Jason Howarth has been a Course Director in the Faculty of Business since 2011. Previous to that, he was a lecturer in the School of Computing and Mathematics specialising in computer security and object-oriented programming. As Course Director, Jason is responsible for the management and promotion of computing courses offered by Charles Sturt University. Jason has worked closely with industry partners IT Masters Pty Ltd and Study Group Australia to help CSU become the national leader (in terms of course enrolments) for postgraduate IT courses in Australia.