FutureLearn chief executive Andy Hancock exits after GUS takeover

Online education firm chaired by former universities minister brings in Global University Systems staffer

March 6, 2023
FutureLearn chief executive officer Andy Hancock
Source: FutureLearn
FutureLearn CEO Andy Hancock

FutureLearn chief executive Andy Hancock is leaving the online education firm after its acquisition by Global University Systems (GUS).

Mr Hancock’s last day at the UK’s home-grown massive open online course (Mooc) platform will be at the end of this month, Times Higher Education understands. Formerly chief operating officer at the price-comparison website Moneysupermarket.com, he led FutureLearn through a tumultuous 18 months that included much of the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial crisis that presaged the platform’s sale by former owners the Open University and Australia’s Seek Group last November.

FutureLearn has not named a successor chief executive but confirmed that it had appointed Vitaly Klopot as chief operating officer.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr Klopot has been working at FutureLearn since February alongside his former role as chief innovation and commercial officer at Coventry-based Arden University, another GUS subsidiary. He previously held a series of roles at GUS itself.

Lord Johnson of Marylebone, the former universities minister, is FutureLearn’s chair.

Mr Hancock said he would “look back at [his] time at FutureLearn with pride”.

“There have been some difficult decisions, but serving as chief executive and working with such a talented team to have such a positive impact on learners’ lives has been a very rewarding experience,” he said.

“I firmly believe in its mission to transform access to education and I am confident that, under new ownership, it is in a stronger position to deliver against its mission than ever before.”

Despite the explosion in online learning during the pandemic, FutureLearn struggled to make its offering profitable in the face of heavy competition from larger US competitors.

Before its sale, FutureLearn said it would have to “significantly reduce expenditure” after suffering heavy financial losses. The company posted a £16 million loss in its accounts for 2021 and its shareholders at the time were forced to invest a further £15 million in the platform last August after it became clear that it would not have sufficient funding in place for its requirements over the next 12 months.

GUS, founded in its current form by the Russian entrepreneur Arkady Etingen, owns a number of for-profit higher education institutions in the UK, including the University of Law and Arden University.

It also owns St Patrick’s College and the London School of Business and Finance, institutions that came under close scrutiny in the mid-2010s after both rapidly expanded the recruitment of students on public-backed loans studying sub-degree-level higher national certificate and higher national diploma courses. Both had their licences to recruit international students suspended.

Lord Johnson, FutureLearn’s chair, said: “I would like to thank Andy for his extraordinary service to FutureLearn over the past 18 months and to welcome Vitaly Klopot, who joins as chief operating officer, bringing with him a wealth of industry experience that will help FutureLearn fulfil its mission and deliver ever greater value for its partners.”


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