News release

University of Southampton embraces the open, online future of higher education

Ref: 12/226

14 December 2012

MOOCs project

For over a decade the University of Southampton has been leading the open access and more recently the open data ‘revolutions’. Now Southampton is joining forces with the Open University, the UK leader in distance learning, as part of a new project to deliver massive online open courses (MOOCs) from the country’s leading universities.

As a free-to-study, web-based multi-university experience, it is envisaged that FutureLearn Ltd will increase accessibility to higher education for students across the UK and around the world. Joining Southampton in supporting the Open University as part of FutureLearn are King’s College London and the universities of Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, St Andrews and Warwick.

“As a recognised pioneer of both open access and open data, the University of Southampton is delighted to join The Open University as one of the foundation partners in FutureLearn," says Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton. "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."

Open University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Bean, added: “MOOCs represent an enormous development in Higher Education, one that has the potential to bring about long-lasting change to the HE sector and open up access to learning for a wider range of students than ever before. FutureLearn will take this proud heritage and work with some of Britain’s best-known universities to write the next chapter in the story of British higher education.”

Over the last 15 years, the University of Southampton has been at the forefront of open access development thanks to the collaborative efforts of researchers, academics, service providers and senior management to develop and deliver a successful open access strategy.

The University was the first in the UK to adopt a formal requirement that academic staff make all of their published research available online through the institutional repository which now carries more than 65,000 records.

In the last month, Southampton’s Open Data Service was awarded the Times Higher Education award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year. The initiative provides open access to University data to help improve the life of the University and local communities whilst increasing the transparency of institutional operations.

At the start of December 2012, Southampton Professors Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee took part in the formal opening of the UK government’s new Open Data Institute (ODI) which they jointly lead. Based in Shoreditch in East London's Tech City, the world-leading ODI will become the 'go to' venue for those seeking to create new products, entrepreneurial opportunities and economic growth from open data. It will promote innovation driven by the Government’s Open Data Policy, helping the public sector use its own data more effectively and developing the capability of UK businesses to exploit the commercial value of open data.

Further information regarding MOOCs is available from the University’s Centre for Innovation in Technologies and Education: www.cite.soton.ac.uk/archives/1375

Ends