University of Tasmania

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Equal or equitable? The role of flexibility within online education

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 05:54 authored by Stone, C, Elizabeth FreemanElizabeth Freeman, Dyment, J, Tracey MuirTracey Muir, Naomi MilthorpeNaomi Milthorpe
Online study is generally associated with the terms flexible and flexibility. Many students choose to study online specifically for the flexibility that is offered, hoping they can combine their studies with multiple other responsibilities in their lives. For students living in regional and rural areas, such flexibility can be even more important, given the additional difficulties they face in accessing campus facilities. While a flexible learning environment has the potential to contribute positively towards equity in higher education, this equity can be compromised when university policies and processes that have been designed for on-campus students are applied equally to online students. This paper examines the experiences of a group of regional and rural Education students who have chosen to study online, to a large extent because of online learning’s promised flexibility. Their experiences demonstrate that equal treatment may in fact undermine flexibility and result in an inequitable student experience.


Publication title

Australian and International Journal of Rural Education








School of Humanities


Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2019 Australian and International Journal of Rural Education

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other education and training not elsewhere classified