UK and Australian universities launch ‘co-created’ online degree

FutureLearn course will offer certificates from both Deakin and Coventry

November 8, 2018
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Two universities on opposite sides of the world have launched a co-created online postgraduate degree.

In one of the first collaborations of its kind, Australia’s Deakin University and Coventry University in the UK are offering a postgraduate course in entrepreneurship on the FutureLearn platform, drawing on research and expertise at both institutions.

This model of collaborative degrees is seen by some as the next step in online learning, and a possible threat to the attractiveness of some campus-based institutions that do not embrace this sort of partnership.

Beverley Oliver, deputy vice-chancellor (education) at Victoria-based Deakin, said that the course was “designed to ensure students network with their peers”. She added: “In the digital economy, their communities and future customers will be global.”

FutureLearn became the first online platform to offer internet-only postgraduate degrees in a partnership with Deakin launched in early 2017. Coventry joined the initiative later the same year.

Students who complete the course, which starts in May, will be awarded a graduate certificate from Deakin and a postgraduate certificate from Coventry.

Fees for the course, which will take a minimum of one year to complete on a part-time basis, will be A$8,800 (£4,900).

Peter Horrocks, former vice-chancellor of the Open University, which owns FutureLearn, predicted in a lecture 12 months ago that collaborative degrees curated by technology giants such as LinkedIn and Facebook could partner with leading universities to offer “global collaborative provision”.

The brands of any single UK university would be “puny in comparison”, said Mr Horrocks, who warned that institutions “that are not involving themselves in such experimentation…may find themselves overtaken by more fleet-footed competitors”.

Simon Nelson, FutureLearn’s chief executive, said that the collaboration between Deakin and Coventry was “a great example of the huge potential for universities when they work together”.

“They can expand their range of course offerings, reach new audiences, enrich the experiences of their students and truly challenge what is possible in higher education,” he said.

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