VIS and OUA partnership help athlete finish degree

This week is National Careers Week and the theme is “Career. It’s more than just a job”.

94% of the athletes at the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) are pursuing a dual career and we shine a light on how our athletes are managing to be successful in both sport and life.

A native of Sydney, Kiera Austin spent the first four years of her Super Suncorp Netball career with the Giants where she debuted in 2018. She made the move to Melbourne in 2022 where she has been an integral member of the Melbourne Vixens frontend ever since.

Career development has always been important to Austin as she knows netball will only be a job for her for a certain period of time.

“I want to utilise this time to enjoy being an elite athlete whilst still developing my skills outside of sport so I can enter the workforce as smoothly as possible." 

"I also understand that the skills I've developed being an elite athlete are very valuable and can be used when applying for other jobs or other opportunities,” Austin said.

When Austin relocated to Melbourne, she only had two subjects left to complete her Bachelor of Medical Science degree at Macquarie University in Sydney. This was when she started working with VIS and Melbourne Vixens Performance Lifestyle (PL) Advisor Kim Gray.

“From the moment Kiera arrived in Melbourne, we worked together to explore comparable units at many Melbourne universities which would accept her. While Macquarie University also had to approve the cross-institutional study at their end,” Gray said.

This required an exceptional amount of paperwork and correspondence, which Austin and Gray divided between them. Another challenge was to balance her studying with her Melbourne Vixens and Australian Diamonds training and playing schedules.

In the first semester of 2022, Austin successfully completed a pre-approved unit at Monash, and was on track to complete her final unit online back at Macquarie when she was advised that online units would cease.

“Kiera and I explored possible units via VIS partner Open Universities Australia (OUA),” Gray said. “We were both thrilled when Macquarie University approved Kiera to enrol in the Clinical Neuroscience and Neuropsychology unit at Latrobe University.”

Via OUA, Latrobe University gave approval to waiver the pre-requisite to enrol, and the entire unit could be completed online around her sporting and life commitments.

“In the face of pre-approvals, waivers, and concurrent study applications, Kiera and I were so grateful to the support of OUA as an avenue to explore units, courses, institutions and delivery modes,” Gray said.

OUA’s concept of flexible learning and delivery, and their strong industry connections, will now enable Kiera to complete her last subject that she needs to complete her degree of Medical Science in the coming months.

“The VIS and Kim, my PL advisor, have been incredibly helpful in this area - they have both assisted me to gain an OUA Scholarship to complete my final unit of a Medical Science degree. Studying online provides that extra bit of flexibility as well,” Austin said.

 “Without Kim and the VIS I don't think I would have been able to complete this final unit as smoothly as I have. They constantly check in on me and followed up with universities when I was travelling and training - ensuring I was enrolled and ready to go well before the semester started!”.

Learn more about Open Universities Australia.

For more information about National Careers Week 2023

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