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FutureLearn announces first US university partners

Five leading institutions welcomed to the FutureLearn international portfolio of partners

London, UK, 14 February, 2017: FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform owned by the Open University, has announced partnerships with five key education institutions in the US.  American University, Colorado State University, Penn State University, Purdue University and UVA Darden School of Business have all selected to work with FutureLearn and will run courses throughout 2017.

Since its first course began in October 2013, UK based FutureLearn has grown fast, attracting over 5 million registered learners from almost every country around the world.  It currently partners with over 100 world-leading UK and international universities and specialist education providers to offer hundreds of high quality online courses and has so far realised over 13 million course enrolments. Earlier this year, FutureLearn announced it will offer degrees with Australian based Deakin University, allowing students from anywhere in the world to achieve a postgraduate level qualification, studying with complete flexibility.

The FutureLearn approach is based on a social learning pedagogy that is designed to support learning through conversation on a platform with an award-winning user experience that works on any device with internet access. Its courses can reach huge scale, the largest so far being the British Council’s course, ‘Understanding IELTS’*, which attracted learners from more than 150 countries, including large areas of the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Over 1.5 million learners have enrolled in this course across five runs.

The new US partners will access a range of opportunities through working with FutureLearn:

  • Significantly extend international student reach: Partners will tap into a significant international community of potential learners within and outside of the US to be able to take their teaching global.
  • Integrate a cutting-edge digital learning pedagogy: FutureLearn will work with partners to bring their digital content learning to life for learners through its extensive online education expertise and unique approach to social learning backed by over 40 years of experience through the Open University.  
  • Innovate with a new network of world-leading organisations: The new partners will join a partnership of 75 world leading U.K., European, Australian and Asian universities to pursue innovation in education.  Universities will be able to collaborate to internationalise the curriculum and student learning experience, amplified by the unique FutureLearn pedagogy that facilitates peer-to-peer discussion and social interaction between learners.  
  • Build professional capabilities: Partners will develop courses to target learners entering or aiming to progress within the workplace to improve their skills, develop their careers and deepen their learning and interacting with other professionals from all over the world.  

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn said: “FutureLearn is proud to be at the forefront of transforming higher education, combining our social learning pedagogy with next generation technology, to deliver market-leading course engagement rates.  We work with around a quarter of the top universities in the world and are honoured to be welcoming such a stellar group of US universities to join the FutureLearn partnership. It is also incredibly exciting to be tackling the key challenge being faced across the US and the rest of the world – upskilling the workforce; something we will achieve not only with our university partners but also through partnerships with other major US National organisations, who are focused on enhancing skills in key professions.”

Dhawal Shah, founder of Class Central commented “As MOOCs continue to drive the digital transformation of higher education and adult learning for employment, it is exciting to welcome a new player into the US market. FutureLearn brings a high-quality learner experience to US online education by virtue of their unique social learning approach integrated with easily the best looking MOOC interface.”


Notes to editors

Please find below quotes and course links for the partner universities as well as contact details for further information.

Dean, John Delaney from American University commented:

“American University’s Business@American seeks to extend access to learning opportunities for students around the world.  An open platform provides prospective students with a real learning environment and one that will challenge and encourage them to continue their professional studies. The Kogod School is committed to extending its online presence and the FutureLearn platform provides and engaging way to introduce students to the possibilities online learning creates for career advancement.”  For more information, please contact press contacts Garland Knott: or Ericka Acosta:


Provost, Rick Miranda from Colorado State University commented:

 “Working with FutureLearn and other world-class institutions is a powerful way for CSU to share information and expertise that’s both interesting and valuable for people who love to learn. Lifelong learning from quality institutions is increasingly important as people adapt to rapid changes in industries and careers, and FutureLearn is a perfect extension of our mission as a Land Grant institution to engage with people in communities in Colorado and around the world as they extend their education and learning throughout the course of their lives.”  For more information, please contact Jeff Dodge, Communications Coordinator:

Renata Engel, Interim Vice Provost for Online Education from Penn State commented:

“Penn State has long been a leader in distance and online education, and we’re excited to offer free online courses through FutureLearn’s highly collaborative and engaging platform,” said Renata Engel, interim vice provost for online education at Penn State. “This partnership is another way the University is addressing its ability to improve access to higher education and advance understanding.”  For more information, please contact Mike Dawson, Public Relations Specialist:

Two initial courses will launch from Penn State on 14 February.  1. Energy the environment and our future , 2. Maps and the geospatial revolution.

 Jonathan Harbor Director of Digital Education from Purdue University commented:

 “As both an international and land-grant university, Purdue is committed to offering access to learning opportunities that bring a global perspective to a broad audience in ways that meet their educational needs. Our partnership with FutureLearn provides exciting opportunities to serve new and existing audiences in the U.S. and globally using an innovative social learning platform, and is part of our broader strategy to enhance our online presence moving forward.”  For more information, please contact Brian Zink, Senior Director, News and Information:

Four courses from Purdue University will launch on 14 February: 1. Communicating complex information 2. Body weight: How our brain, behaviour and genetics influence appetite and food choices. 3.  Persuasive communication: What makes messages persuasive? 4. Introduction to R for Data Science

Tom Steenburgh, Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education and Non-credit, University of Virginia Darden School of Business commented:

“The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is excited to partner with FutureLearn to extend and expand our reach and impact across the globe.  FutureLearn’s focus on the learning community perfectly aligns with Darden’s collaborative and participative approach to business education.  Routinely recognised for providing the world’s best graduate business education experience, Darden looks forward to the partnership providing another avenue for the School to drive innovation in pursuit of transformational learning opportunities for all.”  For more information please contact Sophie Zunz, Director of Media Relations:


For more information from FutureLearn, please contact PR,

*IELTS is the English language proficiency test used across the world.

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