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What is the X in OPX, and how can it help universities?

01 October, 2021

In the IT sector, “X stands for anything”. It can be “a single service or collection of services… virtually every layer of the IT stack can be offered as a service” (OTAVA, The rise of X as a Service). In higher education online services, the X in OPX offers similar customisation to universities and represents an evolution from full online program management (OPM).

What is OPX?

Flexibility is at the heart of OPX, says HolonIQ Co-Founder and Co-CEO Patrick Brothers. “OPX covers the entire spectrum of service models supporting universities in the design, development and delivery of online education, from full outsourcing to filling a particular gap in a university’s capabilities.”

A higher education market intelligence platform, HolonIQ surveyed higher education leaders globally, with a quarter naming digital as their top strategy for growth.

“While one in three universities will seek strategic partnerships to deliver digital capability, not everyone wants a fully outsourced model,” Patrick explains.


At OES, the OPX concept is focused on precisely meeting each partner’s needs. OES continues to deliver full Online Program Management (OPM) to select universities as part of its broader OPX offering.

“Our OPM partnerships continue to encompass everything from digital strategy and marketing to student support, learning design and delivery,” explains Claire Sadler, Executive Director, Growth at OES. “But we have found many institutions are seeking help to uplift specific aspects of the student experience, like data-driven success coaching or learning analytics. As the sector’s digital capability matures, discrete services can also be used to scaffold in-house resources, either as an ongoing relationship or during peak demand.”

Why universities need OPX

As competition increases across all course types, universities are under pressure to elevate their digital presence as quickly and strategically as possible. Online and on-campus students are looking for improved experiences. COVID-19 has accelerated students’ understanding of the experience and benefits of online study (Croucher and Locke, Melbourne CSHE, 2020). In Australia, 77% of postgraduate students who studied during COVID-19 thought digital learning tools provided an equal or better experience than their face-to-face equivalents (Deloitte 2020). In a survey of prospective international students,  62% wanted a mixture of face-to-face and online classes (QS 2021).

OPX means each university can uplift its online delivery at scale and tackle key challenges according to strategy and budget. In fact, OES’ expansion to OPX started before COVID-19, in recognition of the sector’s need for flexibility beyond OPM.

In 2019, OES was contracted to provide learning design services for Auckland Online’s first tranche of courses. This set the university up with a template for high quality course design. Following the successful launch, our team continues to support the growth of Auckland Online as needed. Other recent OPX partnerships include bespoke solutions for a Russell Group university in the UK, interactive classroom simulations for Teach for Australia, and award-winning learning design for Irabina Autism Services, enabling fast and effective online teacher training during COVID-19.

What about OPM?

OPM partnerships have led the evolution of higher education over the past decade.

“Putting students first in every facet of our program delivery has made OES a leader in student experience. By combining all of our best practice solutions, we believe our OPM delivery will continue to create sector-leading results for students and universities,” Claire says.

All partnerships start with a conversation about the university’s needs.

“Whether OPM or OPX, we take a big picture approach to creating whole of university solutions.”

Is OPM or OPX right for your institution? Start a conversation with us today.