Future lean for FutureLearn

The UK Open University wants out of the MOOC provider it created

OU launched FutureLearn in 2012 and sold 50 per cent to Australian jobs search site SEEK in 2019 for £50m (A$87m). The university gives no reason why it wants out, beyond stating, “we regularly review our funding position and investment portfolio and are now seeking to sell our stake in the business.”

On Friday, FutureLearn referred to an “extremely challenging” environment and that advisors are appointed to “explore the option of finding a new owner.”  SEEK did not respond to an inquiry as to whether it was a buyer.

Future Learn 2021 turnover was £11.26m ($A19.6m)with an operating loss of £16.12m  (up from a £13m loss in 2020).

Its 2021 annual report (filed this July) states that agreed new funding from shareholders this financial year “will not be sufficient” to meet objectives and that without further investment, “there remains a material uncertainty, which may cast significant doubt about the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The company attributes its troubles to, “market demand for the product offer in a sector that is still in relatively early stages of digital development and rapidly innovating.” Other issues are “the availability of in-demand content from partner universities” and FutureLearn’s technical platform (“security and performance”).

Not to mention “the ability to generate revenue models that can sustain the business in the longer term.”

FutureLearn lists 18 Australian universities among 260 partners. It offers “thousands of online courses from top universities and specialist organisations” and makes its corporate case for on-leaning in a 2020 corporate statement, HERE


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