British academics will be advisers to Regents College, America's leading "virtual university". Its president, C. Wayne Williams, was in London last week to sign an agreement between the college and FT Knowledge, the business education division of Pearson plc.
He said he hoped to recruit international staff to Regents's 350-strong virtual faculty as part of its drive to improve its business management and IT undergraduate programmes.
The current faculty are drawn from institutions across America. They establish degree requirements and determine how they will be assessed.
"We pay our academics an honorarium of $180 per day. They are all full-time staff at other universities and can make much more there, but they get a lot out of it," said Mr Williams. "They get a feeling of satisfaction from helping people who do not usually use higher education. It also gives academics a chance to spend time with others in their discipline."
The average age of Regents graduates is 40 and the majority use its distance-learning degree programmes to redirect their career paths. Alick Kitchin, director of programmes at FT Knowledge, said this demographic was at the heart of the joint venture.
"As part of education's move away from the 18 to 21-year-old market, our material is directed at post-experience, mature students," he said.
Degree structures take into account prior, accredited learning and students can use a combination of local-based or distance- learning courses to complete their programmes.
"This college allows you to live anywhere without losing anything academic," said Mr Williams.