General
19 Feb 2013

Top UK institutions take Futurelearn to India on PM Trade Mission

Six of Futurelearn’s partners are accompanying the Prime Minister, David Cameron on a major business and skills mission to India. The Open University’s Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean, has been joined on the visit by VCs from the universities of Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton and Warwick and the CEO of the British Library.

Futurelearn was set up by The Open University (OU) in December 2012.

Yesterday (February 18th 2013), it was announced that five more UK universities are joining Futurelearn, along with the British Library. Including the OU, Futurelearn now has 18 partners. It is the first UK company to offer free, open and online courses from multiple leading UK institutions.

This week’s visit to India has been organised jointly by UK Trade and Investment (UKTi) and the department for Business Industry and Skills (BIS). The Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts is taking part in the mission along with UK business leaders.

Martin Bean said:

“In joining Futurelearn, the UK’s top institutions have placed themselves at the centre of the discourse on massive open online courses (or MOOCs). The UK’s 800 year-old heritage of teaching and learning coupled with the OU’s unrivalled expertise in distance and online education gives us a powerful proposition to bring to the global market for quality higher education (HE). This visit to India gives us an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of Futurelearn and to share our vision for world-class UK HE that is free and open to all”.

As well as the five universities represented in India, Futurelearn is working with the universities of Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Queen’s Belfast, Nottingham, Reading and St Andrews.

During the visit, delegates are meeting a variety of key figures from Indian industry and education. It provides an opportunity for the six Futurelearn partners to raise awareness of the company and UK developments in online educational resources.

University of Cardiff Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan said:

"Futurelearn is an opportunity for Cardiff to help meet the demand for higher education in India. Cardiff is already a global player, with an academic community recognised for its international distinction and impact. We’re pleased to partner with The Open University as one of the first universities to join Futurelearn and to lead the sector in Wales. This exciting initiative provides a real opportunity to extend access to our high quality education experience, free and open to all."

University of Exeter Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Sir Steve Smith, said:

“As one of the founding partners, the University of Exeter is very pleased to see Futurelearn welcoming new partners. The University of Exeter has an extensive set of relationships in India, and we see The Open University and Futurelearn as key strategic partners in developing our work in India and beyond. I look forward to working with Martin Bean and other partners accompanying the Prime Minister on this trip to deepen existing relationships and develop new ones."

University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam said:

“As a recognised pioneer of both open access and open data, the University of Southampton is delighted to join the OU as one of the foundation partners in Futurelearn. We are a university with a strong global outlook and can foresee many potential benefits to making our educational resources and materials available and accessible to people around the world as part of this excellent initiative for UK higher education."

University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Thrift said:

“Futurelearn will draw on Warwick’s already significant experience of creating and delivering innovative online teaching and learning. This includes online course material already developed by Warwick Business School, Warwick Business School’s renowned distance learning MBA, and the significant online education and engagement provided by Warwick’s International Gateway for Gifted Youth. We are delighted to bring that experience, and add some of our innovative teaching, to this initiative.”

Futurelearn is currently developing its website and curriculum. The first students will start studying courses developed by the partner universities later this year.

Notes to editors:
1. Futurelearn Limited is a private limited company incorporated in England under registration number 8324083
2. The term “partner” in this news release does not constitute a partnership in the legal sense and the Parties shall not have authority to bind each other in any way. The term is used to indicate their support and intent to work together on this project.

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