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Top Chinese universities join FutureLearn to provide free online courses as Premier Li Keqiang visits the UK for trade talks

First Chinese partners

FutureLearn, the UK-based social learning platform, will partner with its first Chinese universities – Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University – to create high quality educational experiences for learners in China, and all over the  world, through free online courses.

The agreements come as part of the China-UK Prime Ministerial summit attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and British Prime Minister David Cameron. At a signing ceremony held as part of the summit, official documents were signed by FutureLearn’s CEO, Simon Nelson, and Dr Jiang Zheng on behalf of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The partnerships with FutureLearn will provide both Chinese universities with a digital platform to reach thousands of learners globally through massive open online courses (MOOCs), and connect more Chinese students with a range of academic, general interest and career-enhancing courses from leading UK and international institutions. FutureLearn and its partners will also collaborate with the two universities on research to gain insights into new ways of delivering learning online.

FutureLearn works by connecting people around the world who learn by engaging in conversation around course content provided by some of the world’s leading educators. Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University will join the growing number of prestigious higher and specialist education institutions offering MOOCs on, together with cultural bodies like the British Council, British Library and British Museum.

Speaking of the new partnerships Rt. Hon. David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, said:

“I welcome the addition of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University to FutureLearn as a positive step towards strengthening the links between UK, Chinese and international higher education as a whole. Relationships such as these are a considerable asset to universities and students around the world and FutureLearn is a valuable conduit for making these connections.”

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, said: “It is my great pleasure to welcome these two prestigious Chinese universities to the FutureLearn partnership. I’m glad that FutureLearn can act as a portal for Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University to reach a global community of learners, and within China, to meet the ever growing demand for international education resources. It’s my hope that the free online courses on FutureLearn can also offer additional routes to campus learning in the UK, China and around the world.”

Professor Zhen Huang, Vice President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said: “Shanghai Jiao Tong University is greatly honoured to become a close partner of FutureLearn. MOOCs are bringing real innovation to the global education sector and Shanghai Jiao Tong University is working to combine them with its traditional teaching methods to create a mixed mode of online and offline teaching. The university is also engaging in a credit recognition initiative with a cluster of universities in the southwest of Shanghai, and is dedicated to constructing a double majors programme using MOOCs.”

Professor Fang Lu, Vice President of Fudan University, said: “It is an honour for Fudan University to open up to a worldwide community of learners who can benefit from access to our world class education. We sincerely appreciate FutureLearn’s support in our endeavour and hope Fudan students will benefit abundantly from the wealth of learning opportunities offered through the platform.”

FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University, a world leader in distance and online learning with more than 44 years of experience. The website went live in September 2013 following the rapid development of MOOCs in the global higher education sector. FutureLearn currently reaches learners in 190 countries and territories around the world.

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