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Breaking barriers to education with free online courses on FutureLearn

Negar Kamrannoush, 30, Tehran, always wanted to study at the University of Southampton but the barriers of location and cost prevented her from making the move. FutureLearn gave Negar the opportunity to learn from the university she only ever dreamt of attending.

Negar Kamrannoush

On a previous trip to the UK, Negar visited the university to look around the campus and experience a taste of university life in Southampton. But, living in Iran, the idea of actually being able to study there full time was a distant one.

Two years later, while browsing the web, Negar stumbled across FutureLearn and the free online course ‘Web science: how the web is changing the world’ by the University of Southampton, which she has now completed.

Negar talks about her experience on FutureLearn and how it might help other people overcome their own barriers to education.

“I think that the University of Southampton is one of the best universities in the UK and it made me so happy to discover that they offer various free courses online via

“I was initially inspired to join FutureLearn not only because I wanted to learn from professors at the University of Southampton, but also because I think it is invaluable to be able to study in English. FutureLearn is a great opportunity for learners outside of the UK to study in English and from the top international institutions. The next course I am signed up for is ‘A beginners’ guide to writing in English for university study’ by the University of Reading to help me improve my language skills.

“I am always interested in studying new things and I think it is great that I can connect and discuss what I have learnt with other people from all over the world. This experience has helped me to change my view about various subjects and encouraged me to search out information and study using different sources and tools.

“Like so many others, learning online in this way is a new and exciting experience for me. I can study anytime and anywhere – there are no limitations.

“If I could recommend FutureLearn to anyone I would say – you can learn so many new things from FutureLearn’s partners’ courses. It is a useful, powerful and fantastic site.”

After hearing Negar’s story Susan Halford, Professor of Sociology and academic co-lead of the Web Science MOOC, said:

“At the University of Southampton’s Web Science Institute, we know that whilst the Web is world-wide it is also local: used and shaped in distinctive ways from place to place. Using our MOOC to discuss Web Science with students from around the world has been a privilege, from which we have learnt a tremendous amount.

“Hearing Negar’s story is extremely rewarding. Thanks to her and everyone else for taking part and sharing their experience with us.”

In a recent article about MOOCs and the people that study them, The Guardian featured Negar as an example of a student who has taken a free online course on FutureLearn.

If like Negar, you’re also interested in Web Science, you can still sign up for the second run of Southampton’s free online course which started last Monday or browse through a broad range of courses available on FutureLearn.

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