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Back to school with iTunes U

Get your academic kicks via iTunes U, which offers lectures, speeches and student work from a bunch of Aussie universities.

Course content from UNSW in iTunes U

University is supposed to be the place where fertile young minds engage in intellectual intercourse, propagating an illustrious academic future that benefits humanity.

For many, it's also an era of goon swilling, penny pinching and caffeine-fuelled late-night cramming that will be looked back on with considerable fondness.

If you've not had these formative experiences, fear not — you can now get a taste of varsity life courtesy of iTunes. Apple has partnered with a bunch of local universities to offer free lectures, guest speeches and student work through iTunes U, the higher-education section of the online store.

Participating universities include UNSW, the ANU, Swinburne University, Griffith, the University of Melbourne and UWA. Content is organised by institution and topic area, and ranges from more general overviews to week-by-week lectures from particular courses.

In their media statements released today, universities talked up the benefits of showcasing their research to a global audience and offering flexible learning for enrolled students. According to Professor Sue Elliott at the University of Melbourne, iTunes U provides an "online enhancement of the Melbourne Experience".

Content currently focuses on stand-alone offerings, with few faculties providing their regular course content in podcast form. So if you're planning on getting an HD in Microeconomics just by listening to the lectures on your iPod, think again.