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FutureLearn offers support to Ukrainian universities

FutureLearn, a global social learning platform with 18 million learners and thousands of online courses, will enable staff and students at Ukrainian higher education institutions to enrol for free on courses designed by the world’s top international universities. 

FutureLearn is committed to supporting universities in Ukraine affected by the ongoing conflict — building partnerships between learning institutions around the world and promoting academic and cultural exchange. The war has had a devastating impact on the country’s higher education system, with many students and academics facing significant challenges as a result of the ongoing fighting and instability. 

By giving Ukrainian universities free access to its Campus programme, FutureLearn aims to foster international cooperation as part of the UK-Ukraine University Twinning Initiative. Developed in partnership with Universities UK International, this initiative enables British universities to support their Ukrainian counterparts through institution-to-institution partnerships and funding for universities in Ukraine.

Launched in March 2022, the Twinning Initiative has resulted in over 100 partnerships between UK and Ukrainian universities. With an additional 60 Ukrainian universities still looking to be paired, the initiative has more demand than can immediately be fulfilled. However, FutureLearn can help bridge this gap. 

Jo Johnson, Chairman of FutureLearn, says, “For students in Ukraine whose studies have been disrupted, FutureLearn can provide a lifeline, bringing together top international universities and specialist organisations to offer engaging courses packed with videos, articles, quizzes, and discussions.”

“By joining UUK’s brilliant University Twinning Initiative, we hope to support Ukrainian higher education, its students, faculty and staff through the ravages of war,” he continues.

Andrew Howells, Assistant Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), says, “The collaboration with FutureLearn will help further the vital support being offered to Ukrainian students and staff, who are determined to continue to learn and thrive, even in the most challenging of circumstances.”

He adds, “The sector, across our membership base in UUKi and beyond, has really stepped up to provide incredible support to Ukrainian colleagues, delivering significant impact through the twinning initiative.”

Since February 2023, 25 Ukrainian universities have expressed interest in FutureLearn’s scheme and a total of 10 have been signed up already, enabling potentially 60,000 students to continue their learning as part of a global community, on any device, wherever they are in the world.

Ivan Sediakin, a student at Ukrainian State University of Railway Transport, says, “Ukraine is currently facing a challenging period, and international support has been crucial in helping us overcome these difficulties. By collaborating with international educational institutions, we have been able to restructure our education system to better suit the current needs of Ukraine.”

“What’s great about FutureLearn is that it offers flexible learning options, so students can learn at their own pace and at a time that suits them. This is especially important during these challenging times when in-person interactions are limited,” he adds.

FutureLearn Campus allows higher education institutions to share their courses with each other’s students, faculty and staff. Today, it includes 60 university partners sharing more than 600 short courses across a variety of fields. The course library includes 170 healthcare and medicine courses, 100 business and management courses, 40 IT and computer science courses, and 40 language courses.

The free access for Ukrainian university students means they get all the benefits of paid subscriptions, which normally would cost £29.99 per month. The benefits include consuming course materials at a quicker pace, if desired, as well as access to exams and a digital Certificate of Achievement upon successful completion of a course. The certificate details the learning outcomes, test scores, the educational institution and educator’s name(s).

The free access reflects FutureLearn’s mission to transform education by offering top online courses from the world’s leading universities. It also builds upon earlier work – in December 2022, FutureLearn announced that it would offer women in Afghanistan access to more than 1,200 courses through a free subscription. The move came in response to the Taliban’s decision to ban women from attending universities in Afghanistan.    

Jo Johnson, Chair of FutureLearn, will sponsor a parliamentary reception in Westminster on 29 March to thank all those helping to fund the University Twinning Initiative and celebrate the impact to date.

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