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Case Study   ·  

UNSW Transition Program Online supports university readiness with OpenLearning and Turnitin

The partnership between OpenLearning and Turnitin provides an effective solution for upholding academic integrity for OpenLearning’s partner institutions and programs.

The UNSW Transition Program Online (TPO) put OpenLearning’s integration with Turnitin to work and shared their firsthand experience of its practical benefits.
UNSW Transition Program Online

Adjusting to a new country, a new language of instruction, and new teaching styles is quite a challenge, but it is one taken on by many students worldwide each year. The draws are clear, as access to a wider range of universities opens countless doors for life and careers. But the path is not always straightforward.

UNSW Global, with a long history of providing pathway programs to students, and OpenLearning, a leading Australian online learning platform, recognized that many students miss out on this life-changing opportunity because of small academic or language gaps.

This is why they developed the UNSW Transition Program Online (TPO). The TPO is an accelerated university preparation program tailored for international students who just fall short of direct-entry requirements to universities abroad. The program offers a fully online direct pathway to enrollment at UNSW Sydney as well as other universities in Australia, the UK, and New Zealand.

Being online, and featuring multiple intakes a year, the four-month program offers aspiring students unmatched flexibility along with the skills for university study including language preparedness. This way students can transition to university with confidence and find success and familiarity in a new environment.

Developing student autonomy and accountability

With TPO students coming from many different backgrounds, countries, and experiences the familiarity with and conceptions around plagiarism and academic misconduct can vary widely. As the program also targets English language skills there are linguistic issues at times. Teachers found that student work could display plagiarism, even without any subversive or deviant intentions.

The team at UNSW Global and OpenLeaning chose Turnitin as an effective solution to support academic integrity within the program.

“In essence, OpenLearning partnered with Turnitin to solve a problem that shouldn’t exist in a perfect world,” said David Collien, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at OpenLearning. “There is a stark issue with assessment when educators or learners target grades, in favour of the transformational qualities of a learning experience.”

Program Lead Teacher Jay Gardiner knew that it was necessary to pinpoint opportunities to promote academic integrity while mastering content: “[Turnitin] provides a high-level report and guide for students to have the opportunity to review their work. This feature acts as a deterrent to plagiarism, and allows them to address any issues” - said Gardiner. This was ideal for the educators seeking to develop student autonomy and accountability over distance with the TPO.

The partnership between OpenLearning and Turnitin was a natural fit which resulted in a synergetic solution for educators and learners. It helped that the Turnitin Core API was production ready – it could build right into the OpenLearning platform and run automatically.


Turnitin is a great component for the OpenLearning workflow as it integrates seamlessly with the knowledge artifacts that learners create within the OpenLearning platform.

David Collien
Founder and CTO at OpenLearning
University of Wollongong in Dubai
Positive Results

For the TPO, the ability to confidently detect potential cheating and plagiarism provided a timely “means to resolve the issue” and build understanding. With access right within the OpenLearning platform, teachers employed similarity detection even within low-stakes activities to grow awareness, self-reflection, and confidence.

Both the educators and students of TPO have direct access to the Turnitin similarity reports, which indicate and highlight any text in student work that displays similarity with known sources, right from within the OpenLearning platform. Since the Turnitin database is the largest on the internet and features billions of web pages and scholarly publications this allows them to determine the exact sources and easily work on acceptable quotation and citation practices.

Using Turnitin together with OpenLearning has proven to be a highly effective and efficient solution for the program's current cohort of students. “As a teacher, I appreciate this as Turnitin allows the student, under autonomy, to make informed decisions to ensure their submission is their own research,” said Jay Gardiner.

Growing together

The enhanced capabilities and insights enabled by the OpenLearning and Turnitin partnership will allow the TPO to scale without compromising on learning outcomes. This ensures that more students can successfully bridge the gap to university admission.

As a teacher, I appreciate that Turnitin allows the student, under autonomy, to make informed decisions to ensure their submission is their own research.
Jay Gardiner
Lead Teacher for UNSW Transition Program Online
University of Wollongong in Dubai
As a teacher, I appreciate that Turnitin allows the student, under autonomy, to make informed decisions to ensure their submission is their own research.
David Collien
Founder and Chief Technology Officer at OpenLearning
University of Wollongong in Dubai

By the numbers

UNIR has graduated more than 38,900 students from 79 countries around the world.


online university preparation program

Institution type

Private Institution


UNSW Global, owned by UNSW Sydney, offers pathway programs for international learners. Of these, UNSW Transition Program Online (TPO) is a purpose-built online university preparation program for international students, delivered in partnership with OpenLearning. From wherever you are in the world, it will help you prepare for study at UNSW Sydney or one of our partner universities in Australia, New Zealand or the UK in only four months.