The Open University is seeking a £40 million

The Open University is seeking a £40 million capital injection for its London-based online degree platform FutureLearn in the hope that it can take on larger Silicon Valley rivals in the digital delivery of higher education qualifications. When it opened in 1969 the OU pioneered distance learning with course material sent by post and lectures that were broadcast on national television. It has since been eclipsed in the delivery of online degree courses by US tech start-ups such as Coursera, and 2U, which have raised hundreds of millions of dollars from Silicon Valley venture capital firms. However, the market does not have a dominant player in the mould of an Amazon or Uber. Up until a few years ago, online courses suffered from low completion rates because they were posted for free in what became termed massive open online courses, or Moocs. Commercial models developed when the platforms began to agree partnerships with reputable higher education institutions, which enabled online study to count as credits towards a conventional degree… FutureLearn has now employed IBIS Capital to help it raise up to £40 million of equity capital from new investors, with the OU pledging to add £10 million to the pot.

Jonathan Moules