SEEK Group invests £50m in FutureLearn
Global power player SEEK Group is investing £50 million to become a 50 per cent owner of The Open University’s FutureLearn social learning platform.
The deal is thought to be the largest ever private-sector EdTech investment in Europe and takes FutureLearn from startup to a £100m valuation in just six years.
Milton Keyes-based Open University launched FutureLearn in December 2012 with a dozen UK university partners to test opportunities offered by digital learning and massive open online courses (known as MOOCs). Rapid growth means that FutureLearn now has over nine million learners.
The platform offers short online courses right through to postgraduate diplomas and certificates and fully online degrees, all designed around social learning.
FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Cambridge-based micro computer creator Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (NHS).
The Open University’s vice-chancellor Mary Kellett said: “Our new partnership is a fantastic opportunity to change more lives around the globe through flexible lifelong learning. It represents one of the most exciting educational prospects in modern times.
“Our partnership with SEEK and the investment in FutureLearn will take our unique mission to make education open for all into new parts of the world. Education improves lives, communities and economies and is a truly global product, with no tariffs on ideas.”
The new partnership with SEEK will have contractual arrangements in place to protect the university’s academic independence, teaching methods and curriculum.
The SEEK Group is a market leader in the creation and management of online education and employment businesses. It is well-established across Australia, New Zealand, China, South East Asia, Brazil and Mexico.
FutureLearn is involved in UK government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps including The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education. It currently has six university partners offering full, online degrees on the platform, and has most recently launched Unlimited, a new business model allowing learners access to most courses for a one-off annual payment.
FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson said: “The Open University’s vision and investment, the hard work of our staff and support of our partners, has seen FutureLearn grow rapidly in the past six years. This investment will enable us to unlock FutureLearn’s true potential and extend our global reach and impact.”