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Will Dickson (primary contact for Telstra Ventures)

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Will Dickson (primary contact for Telstra Ventures)

Telstra Ventures Final Report


Executive Summary


Tertiary education in Australia is in the midst of fundamental change. University operations, course delivery and student management are dealt with using a hybrid of traditional and largely bespoke technology solutions. The effect of this is that universities fail to achieve the cost and efficiency gains they are striving for, access to education is constricted, students are not adequately engaged and industry is left unsure about the integrity of the academic credentials of employment candidates.



Through analysis and research of the education sector, the Ducere project team has determined that many of the issues are able to be distilled down to some common root causes which, if resolved, have the potential to substantially improve outcomes for students, industry and education providers. In essence, the ability to authenticate students and their work while creating new and better ways for stakeholders in the sector to communicate and manage their processes; creates the opportunity to introduce disruptive technology that could revolutionise education.



Companies who have an understanding of these root causes and who have the resources to be able to provide solutions to solve them, not only have a significant commercial opportunity, but will also have the ability to shape and influence the technology on which these products are built and create pathways for the sector to follow in the future.



Telstra Ventures, through its partners and subsidiaries, currently has technology products and services able to be deployed into the education sector. Given its size and experience in supplying enterprise wide solutions, Telstra also has the potential to initiate a consolidation of the bespoke solutions currently in the sector and displace them through the provision of industry solutions that are harmonised and able to communicate with each other. With these, and by extending existing solutions




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and developing new ones, Telstra has the opportunity to be able to capitalise on its expertise in technology and data transfer, while creating long term commercial relationships with educators.



The project team has identified four key solutions from Telstra Ventures portfolio that could be leveraged into the education sector. The Docusign and Telesign platforms are able to provide authentication on assessable work submitted by students, providing a level of security that is otherwise difficult to achieve. Deputy is able to build even greater integrity into the authentication process and also creates opportunities for efficiency gains in workflow and coordinated scheduling across university operations and within faculties. Lastly, Whispir provides a powerful communication facility that enables greater interaction between all stakeholders in the education system.




































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1.  Project brief and plan




1.1         Client Background


Telstra Ventures invests in market leading, high growth companies that are strategically aligned with Telstra to offer high quality, new products and services to its customers. Based in Australia and Silicon Valley, Telstra Ventures works closely with quality entrepreneurs to build significant companies. Telstra Ventures is a corporate venture capital group founded in 2011 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Telstra Corporation. Telstra Ventures provides thought and investment leadership for


Telstra’s future.



1.2         Project Information


Telstra Ventures will provide students with Project Management services to establish the project and engage resources. The request for service stipulates that our team will provide the following to Telstra Ventures:


a)    A research report of current Tertiary Education operation processes that can be digitised and improved;

b)    Provide a feasibility analysis artefact of implementing SaaS off the shelf products to digitise the processes identified in the research report;

c)    Provide a proof of concept solution prototype for Tertiary Education providers to digitise their operations using Telstra Venture products and benchmarking.


Project closure activities including obtaining Customer Acceptance Sign Off and updating relevant systems with the project changes.





















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Figure 1 Project Plan
























































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2.  General research



2.1         Education Industry at a glance




x      Revenue 15/16: $114.5bn (34.1% from tertiary market: 25.9% from University and Other Higher Education industry / 8.2% Technical and VET).

x      Profit 15/16: 4.0bn.


x      Wages 15/16: $53.5bn.


x      Businesses 15/16: 33,015.


x      Annual growth 11-16: 4.3%.


x      Annual growth 16-21: 4.1%.


x      International students contribute 6.1% of sector revenue for 2015-16.


x      As an industry, international education generates nearly $15 billion in exports annually and supports around 127,000 jobs, 88,000 of which are outside the education sector.


x      After decades of engagement, Australian universities now boast some 2.5 million international alumni.


Industry structure


x      Life cycle stage: Mature.


x      Revenue volatility: Low.


x      Capital intensity: Low.


x      Industry assistance: High.


x      Concentration level: Low.


x      Regulation level: High.


x      Technological Growth: Medium.


x      Barriers to entry: High.


x      Industry globalisation: Low.


x      Competition level: Medium.





x      Over one third (35%) of all government funding for education is allocated to tertiary education. If government funding reduces and costs are passed onto students, enrolments may decline.


x      The performance of TAFEs, universities and other tertiary education providers is heavily influenced by the number of international students – about 16.3% of revenue generated by the University and Other Higher Education industry is attributable to services provided to international students.



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x      10.2% of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training industry is attributed to international students.

x      In the 2014-15 Budget, the Government proposed removing maximum amounts for student contributions for Commonwealth-supported students, to allow universities the freedom to set course fees. It also proposed cutting government funding to universities by 20% - twice rejected by the Senate due to concerns about equal access to higher education.


x      Australia`s total investment in research and development is below the OECD average, and public investment in universities is around two-thirds of the OECD average.




x       42.4% of international students are enrolled within University and Other Higher Education Industry, while 25.8% are with VET providers – 23.3% enrolled in English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).


x       The number of foreign students enrolled at VET providers declined by an annualised 7.6% over the four years to 2014 (contributed by the 2010 racially motivated attacked on international students and high AUD – losing competitiveness).


x       International student enrolments have since rebounded, in line with the depreciation of the AUD since late 2013 – forecast 8% increase in foreign students in 2015. Student Visa regulations were also updated to make it easier and more streamlined to enrol in Australia.


x       Some universities derive more than 20% of their total income from international student fees, leading to concerns that they are dangerously reliant on international student enrolments.

x       Major leap in Indian students coming to Australia for education - 47.6% increase from 2013.

x       Iraq, Egypt and Nepal, whilst not in the top 5 countries of inbound students, showed a significant increase in the number of students between 2013-2014, with figures at 51.8%, 40% and 33.8% respectively.

x       Top 3 subject choices for higher study in Australia are:


➢     Management and Commerce.


➢     Engineering and Related Technology.


➢     Information Technology.

Other popular courses


➢     Health.

➢     Society and culture.


x Engineering and Related technologies has seen leap of over 5000% from 2013 to 2014 at the Bachelor`s Pass level, because the job market for Engineers in Australia has doubled over 2014-2015 from 84 students in 2013 to 4,273 students in 2014.




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x       Management and Commerce at the Doctorate (by Research) level increased 368% from 2013 to 2014 - 89,868 international students for Bachelors and 60,334 for Masters - the most popular course for international students.

x       Australian Government Department of Education and Learning stats show that the highest number of students arriving in Australia for higher education come from South-East and Central Asia, particularly:


➢     China


➢     Malaysia


➢     Singapore


➢     Vietnam


➢     India


x       Australia`s `world-class education` promise


➢     8 of Australia`s universities are in the top 100 in the world.


➢      5 of Australia`s cities being listed under the 15 student-friendly cities in the world.


x       A high proportion of graduates secure employment in the Australian job market and transition from the `fast-track` option to the `permanent residence` option within a short span of time.

x       High cost of living in Australia is expected to remain a significant deterrent to international enrolments.

x       US, UK and Canada are expected to ramp up marketing campaigns to attract foreign students over the next few years.

x       Technical and VET providers have seen a decline in enrolments due to increased competition from universities, contributed by the uncapping of undergraduate university places.

x       The two key national targets from the 2012 Bradley Review are: 40% of 25-34 year olds to hold a Bachelor`s degree by 2025 (from a base of around 29-30% in 2008); and 20 per cent of higher education places for people from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds by 2020, i.e. from the bottom quartile of the population in terms of SES indicators (from a base share that had long hovered in the 14-15 per cent range).





x       Introduction of demand-driven system in the university sector.


x       Over the next 5 years, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training industry is expected to undergo significant review and reform - the Federal Government established the VET Reform Taskforce in late 2013 and a Senate enquiry into the operation regulation and funding of private VET providers in late 2014. In its interim report in March 2015, concerns were raised about the surge in government expenditure on private providers since the implementation of market-driven models, the VET FEE-HELP model and reports of aggressive marketing techniques by non-TAFE providers. The Senate


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Committee`s final findings are likely to lead to alterations to government policy and funding, subsequently influencing the industry and divisions performance.


x       Underlying demand for tertiary education has increased following the global financial crisis. People look to up-skill to insulate against retrenchment, and gain an edge in a competitive market.

x       The division is highly regulated, and changes in government policy and regulation occur quite frequently. The federal and state governments regulate all levels of education between them, from preschools through tertiary education.

x       Established in 2011, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) monitors and reports on quality assurance in Australia`s higher education system, ensuring that minimum standards are met by all higher education providers. TEQSA accredits all providers and also audits and monitors the quality of education provided to international students.


x       The higher education industry is currently undergoing reform in response to the 2008 Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education. This included a shift towards a demand-driven system in January 2012, through the removal of university enrolment caps. The new system allows universities to allocate course places, with guaranteed government funding for every domestic student enrolled in an undergraduate degree.




IBIS World Industry Report Education and Training in Australia, July 2015 An Agenda for Australian Higher Education 2013-2016 2013


Industry News: Emerging Education Trends in Australia, October 2015 Tertiary Education Policy in Australia, July 2013


The world at work: Matching skills and jobs in Asia 24 June 2014






















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2.2         Target market #1 Consumers


The majority target demographic in terms of student population is the millennial generation.


This generation are today’s tertiary education seeker through to professionals established in their mid-lives. They have grown up in a period of rapid change, shaping their priorities and preferences. Some statistics and insights are:


x      Born between 1980 – 2000.


x      Over 4.2 million Millennials in Australia i.e. more than 20% of the overall population.


x      More than 22 hours per week on the internet.


x      Over 76% own a smartphone.


x      ‘Street smart’ – mature, resilient and fast-learners who are highly tech-savvy, but are also in search of meaningful experiences and motivated by deeper concerns than just money.

x      Have a tendency to be sceptical, overstimulated, and impatient, but are generally relaxed when they communicate, blunt when they speak, and challenges the status quo.


x      Highly connected and active users of social media.


x      Lower employment levels and lower incomes means they have less discretionary budgets.

x      With less to spend, they put off big expenditures like marriage and mortgage, and rely on any available study support.

x      Tend to carry more debt such as student loans and credit cards.


x      Price is transparent, with product information, reviews and pricing available online 24/7. More than 50% of Millennials use their mobile devices to compare prices while in store.


x      Between 80-90% have purchased something online in the last 12 months.


x      Millennial loyalty is driven by quality and value. Millennials are a self-serve generation


– accessing large amounts of information via online tools to make purchase decisions based on pragmatic expectations of quality and value.

x      Millennials identified reward incentives as the top factor fuelling their trust. They also expect brands to secure their personal data and to use it in an ethical manner.


x      Quality is now determined by consensus. While older consumers can still be swayed by marketing messages, Millennials will ignore those messages in favour of consensus.

x      When asked to distinguish themselves as a generation, Australian Millennials overwhelmingly define themselves by their relationship to technology; however, mass adoption of mobile marketing will be driven by functionality, not age.














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Figure 2 Snapshot of Millennials






































Millennials Coming of Age 2015 (http://www.goldmansachs.com/our- thinking/pages/millennials/ )


Born this Way: The Australian Millennial Loyalty Survey 2012 (https://www.aimia.com/content/dam/aimiawebsite/CaseStudiesWhitepapersResearch/english/A  imia_GenY_Whitepaper_AU.pdf)










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2.3         Target market #2 Tertiary education providers


We analysed all aspects of the tertiary education industry and compiled a considered and comprehensive value chain. This value chain was presented to Telstra Ventures learning prior to this report and feedback was obtained with a detailed explanation provided as to why each limb was included and the basis for its place in the order of the chain.


Figure 3 Value Chain Analysis of the Tertiary Education Industry

































In addition to mapping out the value chain, we identified business models which our team regarded as unique and potentially having application to our project.











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Figure 4 Unique models in the student support space








































  • Cloud-based platform for course presentation.


  • Immersive and interactive course delivery technology such as virtual whiteboards.


  • Live classes with dynamic screens (to display course content).


  • Real world learning through field placements, on-campus intensives and global meet-ups.
  • Currently engaged with 19 American tertiary institutions.


  • 2U is a school as a service provider


➢      Provides schools with the comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to attract, enrol, educate, support and graduate students globally. Blending live face-to-face classes, dynamic course content and real-world learning experiences, 2U’s



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No Back Row® approach ensures that every qualified student can experience the highest quality university education for the most successful outcome.


➢ Offers graduates and employment placement service.




x      24/7 on-demand online tutoring - web, mobile and app access.


x      Platform licensed to institutions to integrate with their systems.


x      Writing centre to help with essays, grammar and resumes.


x      93% student satisfaction rate.



Smart Sparrow


x      The notion of personalized, interactive and fully adaptive e-learning is at the core of Australian start-up company Smart Sparrow. The three core features of this approach are:

➢     Adaptive feedback: allows teachers to monitor student learning in real time to give new challenges to students who are mastering the material or providing more help to students who are struggling.


➢     Adaptive learning paths: students who are performing well can be skipped to higher levels whereas those who are struggling can be sent to more foundational material.


➢     Adaptive content: allows teachers to adjust overall course content on the fly based on real time feedback about student outcomes.


Global Learning Support (GLS)


x      Appears to have emerged in response to the need for student on-boarding and support services that have arisen with the rise in online learning management systems. Without the traditional contact that students have experienced in the past, students now function in a far more impersonal environment. It is the outsourcing (by education and training providers) of a comprehensive student support package.


x      With the introduction of graduated payments in the VET fee help program, GLS is well positioned to benefit from its services, where learning institutions will now be required to attract and retain (current dropout rates are 70%) students through to course completion, in order to obtain the government grants.

x      The GLS system uses a modified CRM that integrates with the LMS used by learning institutions.

x      GLS is now operating in the UK and Europe.


x      The tools used are as follows:






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x    A rigorous and thorough system that clearly sets out what both parties can expect during enrolment and study. Another option in EduScreen is to use AC3 (Assessment of Commitment to Course Completion).AC3 involves a short behavioural science test that very quickly assesses the commitment to study. The results of this also have direct links to progression and completion. The overall outcomes of using EduScreen are having a ‘Clean’ Student list with a very clear picture on expectations. All interactions made on behalf of our clients are recorded in both audio and a written report. This is then added to the student profile in your Student Management System and can be used as a reference should any disagreements occur.


x    EduScreen is essentially a filter conducted on behalf of the Education Provider/College. It is a one-time conversation in the first week of enrolment.


x    EduScreen protects the Education Provider from a potential ASQA/Department of Education investigation due to a new student claiming they did not know any of the following: cost of the course, duration, expectations, commitment, style of learning, resources required internet and computer requirements, weekly workload etc.


x    GLS will call each student (10-15 minutes scripted call) and report to the Education Provider on the outcome of each individual call.

x    GLS will record the call and supply to the Education Provider for loading into their student management system.

x    GLS will supply a written report on each student for loading into their student management system.





x    A student monitoring system that uses course and student information to track and report on student progress.

x    It does this using 3 key metrics:


x    Knowing the course material and the Education Provider we represent.


x    Knowing the student history and their preferences.


x    Knowing the stage which the student is at currently.


x    EduTracker uses some of the world’s best Customer Relationship Management software, provide a cloud-based service that allows them to record and track all of the interactions they have on behalf of the Education Provider which allows a holistic picture on the complete student profile. This allows study coaches to deliver advice and help that is honed to be relevant for that student, studying that course at that time.










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Traditional Support


x    Dedicated Student Support Team to engage, encourage and guide students. All of our staff has strong backgrounds in customer service, administrative skills and an in-depth knowledge of the course.


x    Provide specific training on the LMS of the client.


x    A 24 hour technical support system for the Education Provider’s LMS. It takes away the threat of non-completion and claws back the time wasted for both the student and the on handling technical support for the LMS.


¾  24/7 technical support for students.


¾  Email, SMS and telephone support for students having difficulty.


¾  Specific support for the LMS of the client.

¾  High and low volume options to suit everyone, from a handful of online students to tens of thousands.

¾  Weekly and monthly reporting on the number of calls, duration of calls, issues addressed, escalations etc.




































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3.  Insights and pain points



3.1         Insight: Industry innovation is required.


Early engagement and facilitation with use of technology to support ongoing knowledge transfer (beyond completion of projects).




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