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FutureLearn’s Turbulent Year Culminates in Price Hike as CEO Departs

FutureLearn’s subscription plan is now comparable in price to Coursera’s, but it doesn’t offer nearly as much.

FutureLearn, Europe’s main counterpart to Coursera and edX, has increased the price of Unlimited, its catalog subscription plan.

The price hike follows another monetization move by FutureLearn’s new leadership: in January, FutureLearn expanded its paywall, as exclusively reported by Class Central.

I was surprised by this price hike. The cost of FutureLearn’s subscription is now comparable to Coursera’s. But Coursera has a significantly larger (and in my view, more attractive) catalog.

This is the latest development in FutureLearn’s tumultuous year, which was punctuated by funding troubles, leadership changes, and layoffs.

Price Hike

On March 1st, we learned in an email that, effective immediately, FutureLearn would increase the cost of Unlimited, its subscription plan, which gives access to two-thirds of the courses offered on the platform.

Here are the old and new prices of FutureLearn Unlimited in different regions:

FutureLearn Unlimited annual price per region
Old Price New Price
US US $279.99 US $349.99
EU €249.99 €299.99
UK £199.99 £249.99
Australia AU $379.99 AU $479.99

Tailing Coursera

The price increase surprised my Class Central colleagues and me, since it puts the cost of FutureLearn’s subscription in the same ballpark as that of Coursera’s — Coursera Plus costs $399 per year.

FutureLearn’s subscription predates Coursera’s, and it launched at a significantly lower price:

The issue with FutureLearn’s price increase is that Coursera’s subscription plan:

  • Boasts a significantly larger catalog.
  • Includes better-known partners, such as Google, Yale, and Johns Hopkins.
  • Extends to microcredentials — Specializations and Professional Certificates.

Here’s a brief comparison of both subscription plans:

By the Numbers: FutureLearn vs Coursera subscription plan
FutureLearn Unlimited Coursera Plus
Courses included 1379 (68% of courses) 6526 (96% of courses)
Microcredentials included None
  • 806 Specializations (97%)
  • 92 Professional Certificates (90%)
Annual cost US $349.99 US $399.99

(For a broader comparison of FutureLearn and Coursera, read our end-of-year analysis: 2022 Year in Review: The “New Normal” that Wasn’t.)

In light of the numbers above, I would imagine most learners would rather pay an extra $50 to have access to Coursera’s catalog for a year.

New Year’s discount: on the left, FutureLearn’s 30% (image courtesy my Australian colleague Pat, so the price is in AU$); on the right, Coursera’s 50% (price in US$).

Even when it comes to discounts, Coursera recently proved more competitive. Both companies started the year with sales that lasted a month or more, but Coursera discounted its subscription by 50%, while FutureLearn only discounted it by 30%, as you can see above.

Signs of Turmoil

FutureLearn’s price increase is the culmination of a difficult year at the company, as reflected by our coverage of the platform:

And just yesterday, we learned that FutureLearn CEO Andy Hancock would be leaving the company at the end of the month.

The price of a subscription plan is expected to increase over time. But the fact that this increase comes in the wake of a stream of signs of turmoil at FutureLearn suggests to me that the decision may stem from urgency rather from a sound pricing strategy.

Manoel Cortes Mendez Profile Image

Manoel Cortes Mendez

Software engineer and online graduate student in computer science passionate about education, technology, and their intersection.

Comments 2

  1. Marcus

    I agree with your view Manoel, Coursera´s (and maybe edX) catalogue are more attracive as FutureLearn. Personally, i was never impressed by FutureLearn because of too less courses and too short courses. The OU have done in fact nothing for FutureLearn after the start of the platform and the Seek shareholding was a complete desaster which helps nothing.

    Under the GUS ownership, we can expect the same as 2U and edX: More expensive courses, programs, price hikes etc. and shift away from the core idea what MOOCS should achieve.

  2. Felix

    futurelearn.com has become very expensive. I used this platform for years and only did one or two courses a year. The pricing shocked me, know that I revisit it.
    Mooc courses are supposed to be free or at least cheap. The creators to not get money out of it. Seems like the plattforms (e.g. futurelearn.com or coursea) are just acting like the privatised research journals. Its exploitation of the government funded research.


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