The Report by Class Central

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Analysis

FutureLearn’s 2020: Year in Review

In 2020, FutureLearn’s user base increased by 50% to reach 15 million learners worldwide.

Future Learn 2020 – Year in Review

Boosted by the pandemic, like other MOOC providers, FutureLearn has now over 15 million learners in 2020, up from 10 million in 2019.

FutureLearn’s founding CEO Simon Nelson stepped down, and the company introduced its first courses under the European Common Microcredential Framework (CMF), which carry academic credit.

For Class Central‘s complete analysis of FutureLearn’s 2020, keep reading. For our previous years’ analyses, follow the links:

By the Numbers

2017 2018 2019 2020
Courses1 578 736 883 1,158
Microcredentials/Programs 13 22 35 68
Academic Certificates2 7 14 17 18
Degrees 2 4 18 23 28
Learners 7.1M 8.7M 10.0M 15M

Early in 2020, FutureLearn launched several courses offering credit under the European Common Microcredentials Framework (CMF). While FutureLearn continues to release free courses without certificates, their catalog of paid microcredentials and degrees is also increasing. While some taster courses are available for free, there is no free audit option for most of the courses that make up degrees and for-credit microcredentials.

Courses

The number of active courses on the platform increased to 1158 (up from 883 last year). Data collected by Class Central shows that FutureLearn launched 233 new courses in 2020.

Below, you can see FutureLearn’s top ten courses launched in 2020, in terms of enrollments. Despite only launching this year, COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus even became one of FutureLearn’s all-time top-20 courses. It’s no surprise that courses about COVID-19 and mental health feature prominently in the 2020 list.

Class Central’s Report compiled a list of the 100 most popular courses launched in 2020.

While the most popular courses were identified by looking at enrollment numbers, Class Central’s list of The Best Online Courses of All-Time was compiled by taking learners’ ratings into account. 39 FutureLearn courses made it onto the 2020 list.

Microcredentials

The number of microcredentials and programs has ballooned from 35 in 2019 to 68 in late 2020.

Unlike most single FutureLearn courses and programs, microcredentials do not have a free audit option and learners need to apply to join. They are not included in FutureLearn Unlimited.

Although not complete university qualifications, some microcredentials are eligible for credits under the European Common Microcredential Framework and can confer credit towards a degree. Check the FutureLearn pages for details.

In 2020, the number of microcredentials with university credit has risen from 3 to 30 (6 undergraduate and 24 postgraduate). Credits are offered by the university providing the course and students who want to transfer the credit over to a different university are advised to consult their university for recognition of prior study.

Two further microcredentials offer a certificate but not academic credit.

Programs

Generally, courses that make up FutureLearn Programs can be audited for free but you need to pay or join FutureLearn Unlimited to receive a certificate for individual courses. The final assessment for a program involves a separate fee: “Passing the final assessment unlocks the academic or professional recognition associated with completing an entire FutureLearn program, plus a FutureLearn Award.” Some programs confer credit if you want to apply for further study at the university offering the program.

36 programs are listed, up from 32 in 2019, although not all courses are currently open for enrollment.

Academic Certificates

FutureLearn currently offers one postgraduate diploma and 17 graduate/postgraduate certificates, one fewer than last year. To be eligible to apply, learners need to already hold an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree.

FutureLearn Online Degrees

Some taster courses can be audited for free, but learners need to apply to become an enrolled student and pay the cost before accessing degree courses.

One degree mentioned last year (Cyber Security Masters from Deakin University) appears to have been dropped from FutureLearn. At AUD $35,000, it was the most expensive degree listed in 2019.

Most degrees have increased slightly in cost (for example, Coventry University’s MSc Nursing has increased from £14,000 in 2019 to £14,700).

Degree Name University Degree Type Cost
BA Management and Leadership [+] Coventry University Bachelors £9,250 per year (UK/EU students)

£13,900 per year (International students)

BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management [+] Coventry University Bachelors N/A
Bachelor of Arts University of Newcastle (Australia) Bachelors N/A
BA in International Business (Top Up) Coventry University Bachelors £9,250 (UK/EU students)

£13,900 (International students)

MA Management (Advanced Standing) [+] Coventry University Masters £4,600
MBA International Human Resource Management [+] Coventry University Masters £15,450 GBP
MSc Mental Health [+] Anglia Ruskin University Masters £7035 GBP
MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Wellbeing [+] Anglia Ruskin University Masters £7035 GBP
Masters Degree Digital Learning Leadership Deakin University Masters $14,850 AUD
Masters Degree in Information Technology Deakin University Masters $19,150 AUD
Masters Degree in Leadership Deakin University Masters $19,450 AUD
Master of Business Administration Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
MSc Business and Organisational Psychology Coventry University Masters £14,700 GBP
MSc Construction Management with BIM Coventry University Masters £16,600 GBP
MSc Construction Project and Cost Management Coventry University Masters £16,600 GBP
MSc Cyber Security Coventry University Masters £16,600 GBP
MSc Disaster Management and Resilience Coventry University Masters £14,700 GBP
MSc Emergency Management and Resilience Coventry University Masters £14,700 GBP
MSc End of Life Studies University of Glasgow Masters £11,800 GBP
MSc Global Logistics Coventry University Masters £16,600 GBP
MSc Nursing Coventry University Masters £14,700 GBP
MSc Project Management Anglia Ruskin University Masters £7035 GBP
Masters Degree in Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action Deakin University Masters $12,400 AUD
Master of Business Administration (Artificial Intelligence) Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
Master of Business Administration (Cyber Security Management) Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
Master of Business Administration (Health Care Sector) Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
Master of Business Administration (Sustainable Tourism) Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
Master of Business Administration (Marketing) Coventry University Masters £17,550 GBP
Cyber Security [-] Deakin Masters Not available

FutureLearn Partners

Some of FutureLearn’s university partners

FutureLearn currently lists 91 university partners as well as 75 specialist organizations such as the British Council and Amnesty International. 5 Centres of Excellence and 31 Associate Partners are also listed.

As a UK-based platform, FutureLearn partners with many British and Australian universities. But some institutions from across Europe, the US, and some other countries are also featured.

Pandemic Response & Impact

Like other MOOC providers, FutureLearn greatly increased its numbers of learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some courses offered upgrades, which include certificates, for free.

In May, FutureLearn Schools was introduced, offering school students aged 13 and over free upgrades to hundreds of courses until September 2020. FutureLearn Campus allowed students and staff of partner universities to upgrade courses for free, also until the end of September.

FutureLearn CEO to Step Down

In July, inaugural CEO Simon Nelson announced his resignation, effective at the end of 2020. His successor has not yet been announced.


[1] The numbers represent the total number of courses offered in that particular year.

[2] Graduate and Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas are listed under academic certificates, not under degrees.

Pat Bowden Profile Image

Pat Bowden

Online learning specialist, still learning after 100+ MOOCs completed since 2012. Class Central customer support and help since 2018. I am keen to help others make the most of online learning, so I set up a website:  www.onlinelearningsuccess.org

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