Why is the University providing subscriptions to The Australian to students?

Jonty Katz wanted to find out.

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If you’ve logged into Myuni recently, you may have seen that the university is offering free subscriptions to The Australian. The offer is open to anyone with a university email address who is able to withstand daily news emails from News Corp Australia’s crown jewel.

Over the last few years, student unions have offered similar subscription deals. Up until 2013, the University of Sydney Union provided a free Sydney Morning Herald subscription to any ACCESS card holders. The University of Queensland Union currently offers discounted subscriptions to The Australian, and La Trobe students can take advantage of discounted access to a variety of Murdoch publications through their student union.

However, Honi understands that it is rare for a university to provide a free subscription of this nature. This is the first instance Honi could find in which a university has offered free subscriptions to all of its students.

According to The Australian this subscription offer is being made to “all universities,” and is being coordinated by the marketing department. As such, the offer being made to University of Sydney students looks to be the first step as part of a wider strategy.

Although The Australian never provided the specific reasoning behind the deal, it is likely intended to boost paid digital subscriptions in the long run.

If The Australian is able to convert a small percentage of those who claim the free subscriptions into paying subscribers once they graduate this could boost their subscriber base. Further, the readership of the Australian tends to skew toward older Australians, and as such this sort of university outreach could potentially open up a new audience for the newspaper.

As of December 2015, The Australian had 75,000 paying subscribers. The subscription deal for students has been – optimistically – capped at 50,000. As such, if this offer was fully acted upon by the University’s staff and students, it would dramatically reshape The Australian’s digital audience.

. The University has explicitly stated to Honi that there is “no wider relationship between The Australian and the University,” and The Australian has similarly denied any wider relationship.

The Australian was also recently subject to a full-blown parody by the 2016 Honi Soit editorial team.