The unlikely craze taking off in wake of Covid-19

SOCIAL isolation and job losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in people enrolling in higher education courses.

With much uncertainty around when things will return to a "new normal", students are turning to short courses and hyper flexible options to fast-track their credentials.

But they're not stopping at just one course - short courses and the flexibility of self-paced study and open enrolments (no set start/end dates) means 'binge studying' is becoming a 'thing'.

CQUniversity Australia is one institution that has seen this phenomenon firsthand, with a sudden rise in enrolments for hyperflexible courses.

"Determined job-seekers in particular are making the most of freed up time during this pandemic and are literally smashing out courses," Centre for Professional Development manager Deb Friel said.

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CQU says more people have been turning to study. Chris Ison

"People don't have to wait until the start of term to enrol in a course - they can start any time, submit assignments anytime and finish anytime."

A non-stranger to study, CQUniversity Associate Professor and Head of Course for Professional Communication Dr Celeste Lawson, is excited about this craze that might be catching on.

"The economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 has seen a rush of people determined to upskill for future roles and I think it's great," Dr Lawson explained.

Dr Lawson has six higher education qualifications and is currently in the final stage of her seventh - a Master of Letters.

"It's like a hobby for me - people have their hobbies - they make model planes, they go swimming - and for me, my hobby is learning, I've always been studying something," Dr Lawson said.

"It was never a conscious effort to get lots of qualifications, that was never the point - it was more about wanting to study and wanting to learn, and then the qualifications came with that."

The self-confessed binge-studier discusses her love for learning and how the face of higher education in Australia is likely to change significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the latest episode of CQUniversity Commentary, a new podcast series produced by CQUniversity.

"I am so excited about the future of higher education once we get through this pandemic because it has forced the entire sector to think about how we present study," Dr Lawson said.

Dr Lawson said she could understand why so many were turning to the books during what was a very unsettling period.

"People are re-thinking their lives. They're re-evaluating their careers and they're hungry to learn," she said.

"People generally choose something to study because they see a future in it, but this pandemic has shown that you can just delve in and study for the love of it. So if there was any positive to come out of this awful pandemic, this is the silver lining because if it makes people study and find something that they love and that's really interesting for them, then that can only be a good thing."