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Case Study

Southern Cross University


Nationalities are represented by SCU Online students

As one of a select group of globally ranked universities by Times Higher Education, Southern Cross University (SCU) offers exceptional undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to students in Australia and around the world.

SCU has long been a pioneer in distance education, with over 20 years of experience.


SCU Wanted to Reach More Students

The university had built a reputation of quality education within Australia, but knew to continue building on that reputation in the digital era, it needed to provide students with the opportunity to get the same quality education virtually.

Enter Keypath. In late 2014, Southern Cross University and Keypath created SCU Online by forging a partnership with five goals in mind:
1. Become a significant provider of online postgraduate programs.
2. Grow revenue – especially outside its traditional footprint.
3. Improve the quality of its online provision.
4. Expand its presence in the postgraduate space.
5. Offer new programs to market at speed and scale.

How Keypath Enabled SCU Online

Students could enrol in the partnership’s initial offering, a new online MBA program, within just five weeks of when SCU and Keypath signed the contract. And enrol they did – the first intake reached 207 percent of original target. That initial momentum has continued, as the partnership has launched nine successful postgraduate courses over the first two years.

Each of these programs has the strength of Keypath’s proven online program management (OPM) services behind it. For SCU, the partnership means assurance that its venture into online education is backed by market research, executed by an expert OPM team, and managed comprehensively. 

Keypath provides capital investment to get online programs off the ground, development of courses that are in demand by both students and the labour market, full-service digital marketing of online programs, and manages all the components of student satisfaction – from recruitment to success and retention services, all the way through to professional development and career services.

These services are all delivered by the only Australian OPM program that can offer such complete program management. This local, personalized delivery model means SCU enjoys the benefits of an in-house team (an open, constructive and solution-focused partnership without the hassle of negotiating with various third parties or subcontractors) and avoids the growing pains of building a fledgling online program from the ground up. Keypath provides speedy implementation at scale, providing flexibility and agility that are unmatched anywhere
else in the region.

SCU Online Exceeds Expectations

Now, SCU’s postgraduate online program portfolio is unmatched anywhere in the region as well. Keypath’s marketing efforts have recruited students from all over Australia, including in state capitals where other institutions with longer histories of offering postgraduate education online create highly competitive markets.

SCU Online has been instrumental in growing the university’s presence across the globe. Altogether, more than 50% of SCU Online students – up to 80% for some programs – attend courses from outside SCU’s designated ‘footprint.’ 

In addition to expanding its global presence in the postgraduate space, SCU and Keypath have exceeded expectations in the other four main drivers outlined by the university at the onset of the partnership: to grow revenue, to improve the quality of their online offerings, to expand their presence in the postgraduate space, and to bring new programs to market at speed and scale.

The partnership has exceeded expectations across the board.

  • The university surpassed annual enrollment targets for all courses in the first and second year of offering.
  • Enrollments in the MBA program went from less than 90 students to about 300 students after the first year of Keypath marketing and recruitment management.
  • The brand-new Master of Healthcare Leadership program not only exceeded year one enrollment targets by 340%, but saw a 95% pass rate – the highest of any course at SCU.
  • The university’s first-ever engineering offering, an online Master of Engineering Management program, enrolled 120 new students in its first full year.
  • SCU Online has enrolled students from 31 different countries.
Programs Launched
Master of Healthcare Leadership
Master of Engineering Management
Master of IT Management
Master of Professional Accounting
Master of Project Management
Master of Law
Master of Business Law
Master of Education
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“The SCU Keypath relationship had the opportunity to transform our organization by pushing the University more rapidly and deeply into an online capability; by supporting the University to make its learning material more engaging and contemporary and to thus make both the student and staff collaborative learning experience more enriching, more engaging, more meaningful. What we didn’t expect was that Keypath would help the University to grapple in rapid order, fundamental and long-standing challenges we face at the heart of our pedagogy. Our SCU Online venture has driven real innovation and change in the way in which we teach and helped set academic standards that in many cases are now being folded back into the organisation across its academic portfolio.”

Chris Patton, Former Vice President (Global), Southern Cross University