Leeds joins partners in offering free online access to education


Students from the UK and around the world will soon have free access to new online education resources generated by the University of Leeds and its partners.

The content will be delivered through what are known as Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, bringing together a range of free, open, online resources from leading UK universities, in clear, simple to use and accessible ways.

FutureLearn Ltd, an entirely new company being launched by The Open University (OU), will run MOOCs featuring content from Leeds, the OU, King’s College London and the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, Lancaster, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick.

“I’m delighted that Leeds is part of this exciting development. FutureLearn will give people around the world the opportunity to sample some of the great education offered here. It will also mean that those unable to access a traditional university education will have the chance to learn from our world-leading academics,” said Professor Vivien Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Education at the University of Leeds.

“And our current students will have access to a rich, interactive set of resources, from both Leeds and our partners. In line with the Leeds Curriculum, this will help give them a deeper and fuller understanding of their field of study as well as encouraging them to broaden their education beyond their main subject areas.”

FutureLearn has been warmly welcomed by government. The Minister for Universities and Science responsible for higher education in England, David Willetts, said:

"The UK must be at the forefront of developments in education technology. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) present an opportunity for us to widen access to, and meet the global demand for, higher education. This is growing rapidly in emerging economies like Brazil, India and China.

“FutureLearn has the potential to put the UK at the heart of the technology for learning agenda by revolutionising conventional models of formal education. New online delivery tools will also create incredible opportunities for UK entrepreneurs to reach world markets by harnessing technology and innovation in the field of education."

Simon Nelson, one of the key architects of the development of BBC Online, will head up the company as Chief Executive. Nelson spent 14 years at the Corporation where he helped launch iPlayer and its forerunner, Radio Player and led all digital activities for radio and television content.

“There has been rapid and widespread growth in open online courses but until now, UK universities have only had the option of working with US-based platforms. FutureLearn will aim to bring together the leading UK universities to create a combined and coherent offer for students in the UK and internationally,” said Mr Nelson.

Further information

More information will be available in the New Year. To register your interest email futurelearn@leeds.ac.uk

Contact: University of Leeds Communications & Press Office: Tel 0113 343 4031, email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

For all other enquiries about FutureLearn contact:
Tim Weber, Director, Edelman,
T: +44 (0)20 3047 2487,
E: tim.weber@edelman.com

Liezel Tipper, Interim Head of Media Relations, The Open University:
T: +44 (0)1908 654573,
E: Liezel.tipper@open.ac.uk