Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Statement on Higher Education in Afghanistan

FutureLearn will offer the women in Afghanistan free access to its premium digital learning platform for the duration of the Taliban’s ban on their participation in higher education. Girls and women with internet access will be able to study short courses and expert tracks from the best of British higher education at no cost to themselves, FutureLearn announced on Thursday. 

This move comes in response to the Taliban’s decision on Tuesday to announce a ban on women attending universities in Afghanistan with immediate effect. The ban has sparked international condemnation, as well as protests in the country, as it further restricts women’s education – girls have already been excluded from secondary schools since the Taliban returned to power in Kabul last year.

In a joint statement on 21st December, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States and the High Representative of the European Union strongly condemned the Taliban’s recent decision, saying: “A stable, economically viable, and peaceful Afghanistan is only attainable and sustainable if all Afghans, including women and girls, can fully, equally, and meaningfully participate in and contribute to the country’s future and development.”

Jo Johnson, Chairman of FutureLearn, said: “For girls and women who can access the internet and afford the time, this could be a lifeline. While this is of course no silver bullet – poor connectivity, poverty and language barriers mean many women may not be able to access the material – it can nonetheless play a valuable part in enabling women in Afghanistan to assert their inalienable human right to education.” 

Afghan women will be able to access over 1,200 courses on the FutureLearn platform through a free subscription.  FutureLearn was set up by the Open University in 2012. Under the ownership of Global University Systems since December 2022, it today delivers courses on behalf of around a quarter of the world’s top 200 universities. Twenty-six of the top 30 UK universities are FutureLearn partners, including 21 of the 24 Russell Group. 

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundation, said: “The Taliban think the world has forgotten them; we mustn’t. This commendable move by FutureLearn to open up its platform to women denied their rights under this regime will play a useful part in keeping education within reach of those with an internet connection. It is a welcome sign that our commitment to fighting for human rights for all Afghans remains strong.”

If you are a woman based in Afghanistan and would like more information about free subscriptions, please visit our Help Centre

For media enquiries, please contact  

Please note due to the UK holiday period, it may take a few days to get back to you.

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education

Related stories on FutureLearn