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FutureLearn secures first industry alliance and three new university partners

The growth of FutureLearn continues as telecommunications giant BT signs up to sponsor massive open online courses (MOOCs) for professional development, while three more world-renowned universities join the consortium.

The University of Auckland, New Zealand’s premier university becomes FutureLearn’s third international partner, while from the UK, the University of Liverpool and Newcastle University join as the latest leading institutions to make free, high quality courses available to learners around the world.

FutureLearn’s first business sponsor is BT, the major provider of telecommunications networks and services in the UK. This agreement marks an important step towards adding even more career-enhancing subjects to FutureLearn’s diverse course list, while working with industry to support the take up of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) among learners around the world.

BT will work with FutureLearn’s university partners to develop MOOCs to enhance the knowledge of telecommunications professionals, engineers and technologists worldwide. A further objective for BT is that these MOOCs will inspire school and university students to aim for a career in technology. Initially focussing on Information and Communications Technology and Telecommunications Networks, the courses created through this collaboration will be open to all learners using FutureLearn, while also supporting the training needs of BT employees and their continuing professional development.

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn said, “In the two weeks since making the website live to the public, I have been delighted with the growth that FutureLearn continues to experience. These new developments highlight the potential that universities and industry leaders see in developing MOOCs for our website.

“I welcome the University of Auckland, the University of Liverpool and Newcastle University to FutureLearn and look forward to working with them to add to our diverse roster of high quality free courses. Our association with BT will also lead to the development of more business relevant courses which give real currency to career development, and establish MOOCs as a real way to enhance career prospects.”

Clive Selley, CEO, BT Technology Service & Operations and BT Group CIO said, “BT is delighted to be working with FutureLearn to support STEM subjects and promotion of MOOCs. Ensuring we have a workforce with the right skills for the future is vital for business and the wider economy. MOOCs provide a unique opportunity to open up learning to the next generation of scientists and technologists and give everyone the opportunity to benefit from some of the world’s best academics.”

Professor John Morrow, University of Auckland Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) said: “As New Zealand’s highest internationally-ranked university we welcome this important global collaboration which will increase our reach and make our high-quality content and courses available to anyone worldwide.

“Our membership of the FutureLearn consortium provides exciting opportunities for collaboration with leading educational institutions committed to utilising learning technologies to enhance educational outcomes.”

Professor Kelvin Everest, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at the University of Liverpool, said: “This new initiative has considerable potential for recruitment to formal programmes of all kinds, by providing free short courses for prospective students, and can be focussed to address significant skills gaps in the economy. It may also go some way to meeting the world’s exploding demand for higher education courses.”

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro Vice Chancellor Learning and Teaching, Newcastle University said, “Our partnership with FutureLearn will allow us to expand our existing suite of online programmes with the launch of two MOOCs in 2014.

“Newcastle University started delivering online programmes over ten years ago and we now offer a variety of health-related courses ranging from Clinical Trials to Oncology. We have also recently launched a programme in Ageing which is one of the University’s major research themes. This new venture will enable us to reach new audiences to give them a taste of Newcastle’s wide ranging subject expertise.”

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