UK launches biggest online university project with free courses

The UK has launched its biggest online university project , called, Future Learn, with more than 20 colleges offering free courses. The FutureLearn partnership would help to serve the unmet demand for university courses, particularly overseas.

FutureLearn will see the UK taking a much bigger step into the rapidly expanding online university market – with claims that higher education is now facing its own online revolution.

The Project is expected to bring UK universities in the global market of massive open online courses (Moocs). They are anticipating that each Mooc course will attract 20,000 students. It could “revolutionise conventional models of formal education”, says universities minister David Willetts.

Students will be able to follow courses on mobile phones as well as computers. The British Library, British Museum and British Council will make material available to students.

The launch of FutureLEarn sees 21 UK universities plus Trinity College Dublin and Monash University in Australia, offering courses that are taught and assessed on the internet.

The UK universities include Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Warwick, Bristol, Reading, Southampton and the Open University, which has headed the project.

Universities are hoping that many people will be attracted by the chance to follow university-level courses without any travel or cost and at a time that suits them.

UK launches biggest online university project with free courses

UK launches biggest online university project with free courses

Future Learn Universities include:

• University of Bath
• University of Birmingham
• University of Bristol
• Cardiff University
• University of East Anglia
• The University of Edinburgh
• University of Exeter
• University of Glasgow
• King’s College London
• Lancaster University
• University of Leeds
• University of Leicester
• Loughborough University
• Monash University
• The University of Nottingham
• The Open University
• Queen’s University, Belfast
• University of Reading
• The University of Sheffield
• University of Southampton
• University of Strathclyde
• Trinity College Dublin
• The University of Warwick

Vice Chancellor of the Open University Martin Bean said that he expects some universities to begin thinking about how to offer formal credits for Moocs.

Meanwhile, FutureLearn’s chief executive Simon Nelson said that it will offer a ‘fresh approach’ with all its courses designed to work across all kinds of online platforms, so that a student could begin a course on a laptop at home and then continue on a mobile phone while commuting.

Sharanya Bharathwaj

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