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Open Education Resource Foundation chairman Dr Wayne Mackintosh told the polytechnic's council last week revenue streams generated by Open Education Resource Universitas (OERu) - of which the polytechnic is a partner - could be worth 10%-20% of revenue for the polytechnic within a decade.
OERu sought to offer international students access to free education resources from more than 30 partnership institutes in five continents. Students could then pay for assessment services to gain qualifications.
Dr Mackintosh's presentation at the council meeting outlined how OERu had developed during the past five years.
The polytechnic's contribution to the initiative during the past five years had been $47,400 (about $9400 a year) and it had generated income this year, which would continue to grow, he said.
Other tertiary institutes were moving into free open education but Otago Polytechnic was ''ahead of the game'' because it became involved seven years ago.
The foundation was working towards closing a gap between the initiative's capability and its promise.
Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said the possibility of the extra revenue generated by the initiative was ''absolutely exciting'', but philanthropy was the main reason the polytechnic was a partner.
While the potential revenue was there, it was not on the polytechnic's ''horizon'', he said.
''This thing has been set up to allow people to access learning for free.''
OERu was formally launched in the United States last year and it was hoped students from around the world would begin to access its capability as it grew, he said.