Virtual Exchange Alliance

Did you know that you can take online courses to enrich your educational portfolio? ANU has partnered with leading universities around the world to launch a new Virtual Exchange experience. The Virtual Exchange Alliance is a collaboration between eight leading universities, including ANU, to open our curriculum up to students from partner universities. Commencing in early 2017, the initial pilot involves online courses, including a selection of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

In your Virtual Exchange you will have the opportunity to study online with committed students from across the globe and engage with the most cutting-edge tertiary education delivery models. You'll learn from leading academic staff and forge cross-boundary and cross-cultural awareness, knowledge, and friendships; all without leaving Canberra.

All courses offered involve online engagement with the curriculum; those that require final examinations will be run by ANU, at ANU, on behalf of the partner institution. In line with other learning abroad experiences, you'll receive a formal result and grade from your partner university and credit towards your ANU degree on successful completion of the Virtual Exchange.

This option is perfect for you if you don't have the space in your degree to undertake a full semester of exchange, or have other commitments in Canberra but want to experience some of the benefits that an exchange program is able to offer.

The Virtual Exchange is also known as the "credit for MOOCs" or "MOOCs for credit alliance" at some of our partner institutions.

Courses offered through the Virtual Exchange alliance include*:

  • Astrophysics
  • Bundle Transport phenomena-Basics and Advanced
  • Responsible Innovation
  • Nuclear fusion and plasma physics
  • Fundamentals of biomedical imaging: FMRI
  • Anthropology of current world issues
  • English grammar and style
  • Psychology criminal justice
  • Topology in Condensed Matter
  • Next Generation Infrastructures
  • Data Analysis: Take it to the MAX
  • Building with Nature
  • Solar Energy
  • Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Neuronal Dynamics

*Not all of these courses will be available each semester. Check the current course list to see available options.

Participating Universities

The universities currently offering this opportunity are:

  • The Australian National University;
  • Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands;
  • University of Queensland, Australia;
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland;
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology;
  • University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Rice University, United States of America
  • Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Information about what courses are on offer is available in the "ANU Virtual Exchange Alliance - What can I study?" document on the right of this page.

Online Study and Face-to-Face Examination

You will be given access to the relevant online course by the host (partner) institution. After working through the material over the semester, including discussions with peers at other institution and any required assessment, you will receive a grade from that institution. If there is a final examination for your chosen course, you will sit an examination invigilated by ANU. To maintain the academic integrity of the final examination, all students sit the examination for those courses at the exact same time, no matter where they are in the world.

Note that, as the Virtual Exchange has been developed by a global alliance of top universities, the partner institution's semester may not match up directly to the ANU semester meaning you may start or finish your studies in the Virtual Exchange slightly earlier or later than the ANU semester.

How do I Apply

Applications close four weeks before the commencement of the partner institution's course.

To apply, first review the list of courses to see which course or combination of courses you would like to take to be equivalent to 6 units at ANU. If you can't find an exact combination for 6 units, you can combine courses to total slightly higher than 6 units.

To apply for Virtual Exchange please complete the application form through the Global Programs System.If it is your first time applying for a program through the Global Programs System you will first need to complete a user profile before you apply. As part of your application you will need to:

1. Download the Virtual Exchange Alliance Application College Approval Form, complete the student section and then have your College sign off to approve the credit that you would be entitled to receive towards your degree if your application for Virtual Exchange is successful.

2. Upload your signed Virtual Exchange Alliance College Approval Form in your Global Program System application.

3. Select the courses you have been approved to take by your college from the available drop down menu

If there are more students who wish to do a course than places available, places will be allocated on academic merit to students with the highest GPA. If you're unsuccessful in enrolling in the Virtual Exchange at the first attempt, we will maintain a merit list for future enrolment sessions and let you know when a place becomes available.

How do I Enrol?

Once your application has been confirmed as successful, you will be enrolled into an exchange shell course relevant to your College, so that we can apply the appropriate credit towards your degree on successful completion of the course(s) and the applicable ANU course tuition fee will be applied to your account.

We will then provide your nomination to the partner institution who will organise your enrolment in their course. They will contact you through your ANU email address to let you know how the enrolment process works.

Closer to the examination (if there is one for your course), we will confirm the time and location of the examination for you in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

After the examination and the partner's release of results, they will provide us with a copy of your academic transcript, which we will then use to give you credit towards your ANU degree. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many places are available per MOOC?

This differs per MOOC, ranging from 20 to 120 for all participating universities. If there are more students who wish to do a course than places available, places will be allocated on academic merit to students with the highest GPA.

What fees do I pay?

When you enrol in the Virtual Exchange you will be enrolled in a 'shell' ANU course. You pay fees to ANU as per your ANU enrolment. You are not required to pay fees to the partner.

If a course has additional requirements, such as a textbook, these are detailed in the course outline from the partner.

How many courses can I do?

Students can take the equivalent of 6 units of virtual exchange courses each semester. As long as you have space in your degree, you may undertake multiple courses across different semesters.

International student visa holders should be aware that due to visa requirements you must be taking at least one face-face course every semester and a maximum of 25% of your degree can be online courses.

How are unit equivalencies calculated?

The amount of ANU credit a course is worth is calculated based on expected workload in hours of study. Expected workloads are calculated by the host university.

If I am not selected, can I still do the MOOC?

Yes, you can do the MOOC, but not as a Virtual Exchange student. This means that you cannot participate in the Virtual Exchange exams or assignments, and consequently you will not receive credit towards your ANU degree.

Can I apply for other MOOCs than the ones listed here?

No, these are all Virtual Exchange courses for the coming semester.  We expect to have a larger offering for future semesters.

What happens if I want to drop out?

Add and drop dates are determined by the partner institution. Depending on where you study, you may be able to drop without academic and financial penalty up to a certain point in the course. If you wish to drop out, please contact so they can advise you what the effects will be in your particular situation.

Is the list of partners and courses likely to change?

The Virtual Exchange is a ground-breaking pilot being developed by a group of world-class partners with the initial phase commencing in 2017. More partners are currently being brought on board. The pilot is running from 2017 to 2019 so, if you will be here in those years and have electives available, there might be different opportunities for you over time. You could also take a Virtual Exchange now and another next year if you have space in your degree(s).

Do I need a background in the area I want to study?

All course outlines form the partners indicate the level of the course and whether they have any prerequisites. Generally, these courses do not have prerequisites, though some courses are more advanced and you will find them easier if you are later in your degree.

I don't have any electives this semester. Will this be running in future?

The pilot runs from 2017 to 2019 and ANU is committed to participating for the full three years.

Can I take a Virtual Exchange course offered by ANU even if I am an ANU student?

Yes. You will still get the experience of studying with international peers as they take this course, however you will be taught by ANU experts rather international experts from other institutions.

What will be on my transcript: the edX MOOC name or the course name on Programs and Courses?

In case of the ANU MOOCs, it will be the course name on Programs and Courses.

Do I have to be in a Bachelor degree to enrol?

No. If you get permission from your College, you can count a Virtual Exchange course towards any undergraduate or postgraduate qualification. There are even some postgraduate courses running as part of the pilot.

Do I need to speak another language?

No. All Virtual Exchange courses are offered and examined in English.

What kind of assessment do I need to do?

Please check the course description for more information about the assessment method.

Why is ANU doing this?

We encourage all our students to be global citizens and enhance their international exposure. The Virtual Exchange is one way to bring these opportunities to students who may not otherwise have them due to the structure of their degree or their circumstances. It also allows our students to participate in one of the leading education innovations of the last decade and be recognised for this towards their degree.

Who do I contact if I want more information?

Email if you have more questions.