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Introducing upgrading on FutureLearn courses

In this post our Chief Product Officer, Matt Walton talks about something new to FutureLearn: upgrading.

From today, we’re making some changes to the way FutureLearn courses work. Now you’ll be able to upgrade your courses, giving you a set of benefits, instead of only being able to buy a Certificate when you finish a course.

You can now upgrade your courses

On FutureLearn courses starting from 6 March 2017, you will have the option to upgrade a course

When you upgrade you get:

Upgrading usually costs between £24-£69, depending on the course (the same price as the certificates you could buy before). If you choose not to upgrade, you can still access the majority of the course for free, for the duration of the course plus two weeks – regardless of when you join. We still want to be sure everyone can benefit from high-quality education from leading organisations and universities.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

✓ Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)✓ Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
x No access to course tests✓ Access to course tests
x No certificate✓ A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Useful things to know

You can upgrade a course at any time – before, during or after the course to get the benefits mentioned above. For example if you decide to upgrade your course after it ends, and want a certificate – you’ll be able to go back and do any tests to make sure you qualify for one.

Upgrading won’t affect courses that started before 6 March 2017 – you’ll still have access to previous courses you’ve joined and/or completed.

Why are we introducing upgrading?

We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

But producing high-quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. The UK’s Open University made an initial investment to get us up and running, but we’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible.

Our business model relies on a small number of people purchasing something that they value in order to keep the courses free for everyone to access.

But research we carried out showed that a certificate on its own doesn’t offer enough value for money and that some people don’t want or need a certificate. That’s why we want to create a more useful package of features that we think provides great value to as many people as possible.

These new features should offer you, our learners, a better set of benefits – and ensure we’re able to keep offering free learning to millions of people.

Over the coming months we’re likely to experiment with other benefits to help support your learning. Please get in touch if you have ideas for things that you would like to see us offer.

Why should you upgrade?

Take the course at your own pace
Being able to access the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn gives you ability the to learn at your own pace and refer back to course content whenever you like.

Validate your learning
When you upgrade, you’ll have access to any tests during the course. This allows you to ensure you have mastered the course material.

Prove your success
By taking tests you can qualify for a Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation to prove what you’ve learned. This is great for demonstrating your learning and commitment to your manager, potential employer or educational institutions.

Still got questions? Find answers in our Help Centre or the questions and answers in the comments below. If we’ve missed anything, feel free to ask in the comments and we will answer as best we can.

Thanks for all your comments. Comments on this post are now closed.

Category FutureLearn news, Making FutureLearn, Using FutureLearn

Comments (351)

  • Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your comments.

    We understand that this change will be disheartening for some learners. But our objective is to make FutureLearn sustainable, so that we can continue to offer the courses that you love.

    Our research (which consisted of a survey of 1,000 learners, plus two rounds of face-to-face user research with learners at our offices) showed us that introducing upgrades is a good way to do this. It allows us to continue to offer all the learning material – except for tests – for free for a period, and provides more value to those learners who wish to pay to complete the course and earn a certificate.

    To answer some specific recurring points that came up in your comments:

    Access – There seemed to be confusion over what access free learners will get. You’ll be able to access a course for its duration, plus two weeks, starting from when you originally join. This is regardless of the course start date. Say for instance you joined a two week course starting on 6 March:
    If you joined the course on 6 March or earlier, you’ll have access until 3 April
    if you joined the course on 22 March, you’ll have access until 19 April

    Upgrade vs Downgrade – Some commenters remarked that the ‘upgrade’ feels more like a ‘downgrade’, especially for those who have been learning with us from the start. We understand why you may see it that way, but as stated above, this is just the beginning for upgrading and we will be introducing more benefits in the future.

    Other ideas – You suggested many other ways we can potentially generate revenue from courses – e.g. learner contributions to courses, and subscription. We welcome these suggestions and they are ideas we are exploring.

    Pricing – Many of you also noted that the price of our upgrades / certificates is too high for you. We are regularly adjusting our pricing in order to deliver the maximum value for money for learners whilst remaining sustainable and will continue to do so with this feedback in mind. We will also continue to explore ways to make upgrades / certificates available to those who can’t otherwise afford them through initiatives such as the British Council’s Study UK campaign and our partnerships.

    Finally, we would like to emphasise that we still believe in offering free online learning and that principle has not changed. Access to high quality learning is still available for those who cannot pay, and the income from upgrading will help us to continue to provide this in the future.

    Simon Pearson – Head of Consumer Products, FutureLearn

  • Stephen

    Did I miss the “we will share a general update shortly” message from HQ?

  • Brenda Lissett López Zúñiga

    Hello! I finished the course “The power of color” that began on 6th february and I would like to know how can I get Statement of Participation What can I do?..
    And other question is if at the end of the course, can we obtain qualifications of each course that I will finish? Thank you !, I hope your respond.

  • meztli izanami cruz romero

    First question, how do I update ?. Second question can we buy certificates before starting the course ?. Third question there will be no exams ?. Fourth and last question in total I have to pay for everything, thanks, I hope to respond soon


    By ‘upgrading’ you actual mean downgrading the standard free terms.

    The course length + 14 days is insufficient time, I would suggest a minimum of double the course length.

    Actually, the main effect of limiting access to the material is to encourage the downloading and local storage of the material. To my mind, this should be seen as a negative for FL, better if the material stayed on FL where you have control.

    As the quizzes remain part of the free offering, I am not too bothered about loosing the tests, and the certificate was never worth the money anyway. So, it is the loss of access to the material after just 14 days, that is the big problem.

    I’ll still come back, if a course peaks my interest and I am grateful to have experienced FL in its purest free form.

    I hate the doublespeak of this announcement. It displays all the worst traits of modern marketing and very few of the values of the OU, which I had hoped were the backbone of FL.

    Such a shame.

  • Camille Rivera Torres

    I would like to upgrade my course of Mindfulness.

  • Cindy Wiggins

    Future Learn was the only really free education left online… Coursera and Edx have both gone down this road already. It’s a shame that you have decided to do really does mean that only those who can afford it have true access to these courses. I expect that you will have many less people signing up from now on.

  • Endalkachew Fentahun

    Can I get free certificate for archaeology course.?

  • Karolina Szwarnowski

    So I could be paying up to 69 pounds for a test……………rather steep!!!!!!
    I don’t want a Certificate of Achievement and any course material I would like to keep I can save myself.

  • Aayushi Kunwar

    Thanks for your interest, I appreciate it!

  • Margaret Harris

    I appreciate that FutueLearn needs to be funded, but feel that two weeks is not enough time to finish the free course. I have sometimes had something unexpected to deal with meaning I have had to delay finishing a course.

  • Licia E.

    I have been a student at FL for a bout a year now and I was wondering when this was going to happen. I figured that it would have come a day when FL would ask for money, but I’m sorry to hear it was done this way. I would (and I have) pay for an Upgrade or a Certificate whenever I think that the course is worth it but now, with only 14 extra days of access, I would not be able to check if the course is worth my money unless I can follow it right away (and I can’t most of the time).
    Those prices are too much money for some of the courses. I would have gladly offer some money as a donation or pay a reasonable monthly fee and then pay extra for certificates. But paying for what was originally a given standard is indeed a downgrade.
    You’re making learning a priviledge again. NOT HAPPY! 🙁
    PS: ppl please read the post before commenting.

  • B. Johnso

    Dumb idea, I think.

  • libia

    I need more expelnation about you

  • Luke Ofori Yemoh

    Please I want to know the exact place or venue where the test will be conducted and other relative information about the test if there are.THANKS

  • Esmael

    Thank you for the upgradation. I appreciate

  • Vishakha

    Thank you for the upgradation. I appreciate

  • Jim

    I feel that by by charging for the tests/quiz’s you are deteriorating the value of the courses and in some cases the courses will need to be changes as these tests are built into the course to provoke the student to think and raises discussion, therefore the quality of the course is being lost for both those that pay and those that don’t pay. Such courses without the Tests/Quizes are “First Aid for Babies & Children”, “Talking about Cancer”, & “Gravity! From the Big Bang to Black Holes” as examples.
    Future Learn need to now categorise courses where tests/quizes are essential so that we can choose to do or not do the course if it is of lower quality/benefit.
    For me I don’t need a certificate but am prepared to pay either a donation or a nominal sum for doing the course, however now some courses are not good value for money by FutureLearn, e.g. Starting a Business by Leeds where each section is only 2 weeks of 2 hours/week at £39 per section, here the sections 6 sections need to be rolled into 1 course to be value for money.
    I’m dissapointed in FutureLearn not being more inovative in extracting money from students, such as a donation linked to student value obtained.

  • Anisa O DirieO

    Thanks for your initiative.

  • Awadelkarim Shaban Gadelrub

    This is a very good &whelp full way to student &people want to improve thief fluent in English language.I hope to be one of your students that make use of this facilities given .

  • Afia- Akrasi Twumasi

    Thank you for the work you do at Future-learn.
    This is good news because sometimes one registers for a course and cannot finish or really, cannot take active part due to problems beyond their control.
    I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for not being able to do the survey sent sometime ago. I am on medication. I am struggling with bad migraines and more. The medication l have now is working, much better.
    So this is an opportunity to be able to take part, and to be able to choose what suits me at a particular point in time without fear.
    Thank you.

  • Kenneth Swanson

    I understand the need to raise money. However, that does not excuse the blatant misleading message in your blog. I can see no upgrading, and in fact there is some downgrading (the material only being available for fourteen days). If you need to raise money be honest about it, and please do not try to wrap it up in misleading headlines that become meaningless when the rest of the text is read.

  • Robyn Cooper

    I think it is a great idea so far I have done four courses and I am doing two more these courses have helped me in my job, I am so happy that I am able to do these courses online. Thanking and keep up the good job that you are doing.

  • Nigel Palk

    Can understand your problem because at the end of the day you have too make money, but I think exclusion from tests and a time limit of 14 days will make the courses loose some of their appeal. I personally think that considering the demographic of the people taking them you will probably loose out in the end. I think a flat fee of say £5-£10 which is refundable if you buy a certificate at the end would have been a better choice. The tests are an important part of the course for many even if you don’t buy a certificate at the end. Learning at your own pace was also very important very many, myself included. A small universal fee would have been a better choice.

  • Marina

    I understand the logic behind this and even think it is fair. However, I think the prices are very steep, specially if you consider how many students you have outside the UK, to whom 24 pounds mean A LOT of money!
    I agree with the commenters who suggested an anual/monthly fee. I already pay for other websites that offer courses in this way and I feel that is a lot better because I can take as many courses as I want and don’t pay that much every month for it.

    • Khasim

      Hi Marina, in support of your opinion, would wish to also offer a suggestion I consider will suit the amount of cash were being requested to pay for a certificate.
      Apparently, not everyone is taking those short courses to support their existing degrees, for for others, it’s a bridge to enrolling into higher institution and perhaps a career path. So an upgrade should mean something substantial in terms of cost, quality and level of the whole course, say a diploma or higher…

  • Abdi Gebissa

    Where do you attached for practicing and experiencing, what one learn online? Do you have a health institute for attachment?

  • Jennie Smith

    I’m really upset about this. I came here because I’m on a low income and can’t afford to pay for further education. I’ve done 5 great courses and had signed up for 2 more but you’re now saying I’ve got to pay for them. Don’t try to argue that the learning is still free because without access to the tests there’s no way of knowing whether you understand the subject or not. What you are in fact offering me is a book to read. Please reconsider the charges. I’d be quite happy to watch adverts on the site if it meant you could earn money from advertisers.

  • Derek Boyes

    This is utterly immoral! The whole point of Future Learn was to give anyone “ANYONE” free access to education “WHENEVER” they could find the time to study. By limiting access to content for only the duration of the course (and 14 days after) is absurd, but to then charge people to access the full course is highly discriminate and unethical. Charging for a certificate that is not universally recognised by employers was never going to work. If you need money to sustain Future Learn, then you should not be a business. Ideally you should be a social enterprise but you’ll need to think of more innovative ways to make money than charging your users. My instinct is that funds should be coming from the businesses and through educational establishments you partner with, but definitely not your users! Your research (and this comments thread) should have already taught you that!

    • Heather

      Rather useless doing a course without any tests to ensure you have gained useful knowledge. I do not wish for certificate / degree etc, . Many people like my son still at school have been informed of Futurelearn to help their education.
      I agree with Derek Boyes it’s now useful only for those prepared to pay to access complete course. Otherwise waste of time it will be goodbye from me and many others I know who have used Futurelearn. Schools will no longer recommend etc.

  • Maria Wall

    I think this is a good idea. I thought you may not be able to do free courses like this forever, and was feeling slightly guilty tbh at getting such wonderful resources for free. If this approach doesn’t get you enough income, maybe you could try a small annual donation (£30 ? £50) to cover an unlimited number of courses, or even say a maximum of 10.

  • Sserumaga Vianney

    can i upgrade and do a full bachelors in dental surgery here? and what might it cost me if yes…

  • Leonard P

    I have, for a long time, been wondering when this would happen.
    All good things eventually come to an end.
    I studied with the OU for many years, working toward a degree. During that time I discovered the OU’s Short Courses which I found to be excellent educational material at an affordable cost and which provided ” Pass Credits ” which counted toward your degree.
    Enter the Government. University fees were, overnight, increased fourfold. I stopped doing the short courses and, so to speak, cashed in my accumulated credits to obtain a certificate in Contemporary Science.
    I subsequently discovered FL and off I went.
    Now a similar situation is evolving with FL.

    My thoughts for alternative proposals :

    1. An annual charge to cover as many courses as an individual wants to study ( you can only do so many ) with still the choice whether to purchase a certificate for any completed course.

    2. Completed courses to remain available indefinitely, so that revision can be undertaken and the student can, retrospectively, decide to purchase a certificate.

    I doubt that FL will take on board any suggestions posted by we students but we can live in hope.

    • Leonard P

      As far as I know, there are no statistics to show how many students, and consequently income, were lost by the OU when fees were increased. The OU had a very large part time complement of learners who, like me, decided enough was enough, resulting in, I suggest, a massive loss of income.

      FL…. I’m not going along with your proposals. If they don’t change then I’m one possible source of income you have lost.

  • Larissa

    This is so sad! Is there not another way?

  • Anna

    I am saddened to read that I will have to pay in future to “upgrade” to enable me to work through the course at my own pace. As a carer of my elderly parents, there is no way that I can commit to doing the course within the set timescale or within 2 weeks after. I am also concerned by the fact that “you can still access the majority of the course for free” which suggests that, even if I do manage to follow the course during the set timescale, there may be parts I will miss if I haven’t paid the fee. I understood that the whole concept of FutureLearn and MOOCs in general, was to encourage further education for all, regardless of cost and this latest decision goes against this. I would be more willing to pay a small charge for registration for the year, as others have suggested, rather than a possibly quite high charge per course At least this wouldn’t penalise me for not having the free time to dedicate to learning and gain full benefit from the courses. I have recommended these courses to so many people who are currently unemployed. It’s a shame that I will no longer do so and will be unlikely to pursue any further courses myself.

  • djamal

    thank you for your good continuation

  • Atikah

    Ist any problem if I don’t have any visa or credit card??how the solutions?

  • Atikah

    I have no fix time too viu futurelearn/follow OU to learn or test and how too send the payment for upgrading or any other payments..please?? Thanks besht regards ahtika

  • Orozbek

    hey tnx for opportunities but is your certificate international?


    are these institutions credible to offer these programs?

  • Jill Hind

    I have never paid for a MOOC on Futurelearn as I have no need for the Certificate, but I can imagine how expensive the whole system must be. Will it be clear at the start whether the course comes with Tests, which I do find important? I am disappointed in the time restriction, as like others think 2 weeks for long courses is rather short (holidays for example disrupt timings) and the hours per week also vary greatly. This will probably mean that I ration how many courses I do, which may not be a bad thing. Perhaps the cost package needs more fine tuning. I don’t advocate the donation model.

  • Julie

    Like some others I too am a pensioner, I take the courses for my own pleasure and to keep my brain active. I will continue to use FutureLearn as long as it is made clear at the start of each course which are the free to access pieces so I dont end up with a bill at the end of it, which I cant afford. Not all us pensioners have golden pension pots to fall back on.

  • Maureen

    A clarification to my suggestions:

    (1) The fee on sign-up would be an annual subscription for access to the platform, not for each course.

    (2) The upgrade to a Certificate would revert to its pre-06 March terms.

    (3) Donation would be an optional extra, which would do away with the need to buy a Certificate to say ‘thank you’. Donations could help to cover the costs of those who could not afford the subscription.

    (4) The post 06 March system should be introduced for the courses most in demand and for those courses simply too expensive to test and maintain for free.

    What I gather from the comments is that many are willing to pay a modest subscription provided they retain access to the materials for as long as they need them.

    Hope this helps.

    • Lorraine L

      Hi Maureen, I think you have outlined some great suggestions here. I particularly like the option to donate.

      • Mona Bashir

        Please. . . .
        Do you have any other options for paied the course fees?

  • Wahidullah Hilal

    How can I pay this money, so I don’t have a Visa, a master card and a credit card.
    Now what is the solution way?

  • Lorraine L

    I’m new to Future Learn and enjoying it so far. I’m currently unemployed and looking for a career change. I think the quality of material here is great and I was grateful to find it. However, I imagine there are many like me who would like a certificate but simply can’t afford to get one right now. But that doesn’t mean they never will. So my concern would be whether or not I could go back, take tests and get a certificate later? Or even better, if certificates cost a bit less overall then some people might be more inclined to get them. It’s just a thought. I totally understand that income needs to be generated to fund such a great online offering that is free for the majority, but agree with some of the others who have commented regarding the ability to take tests for personal satisfaction. I think it’s very important for people to be able to test their knowledge as they go regardless of whether or not they want a certificate. And as I’ve already mentioned, they might want to purchase a certificate later – especially if they get a great new job as a result. I would certainly consider doing that; partly to prove my new skills and partly to keep Future Learn going for others.

    • Lorraine L

      I’m replying to my own comment to say that I have re-read the blog above and understand that I WILL be able to subsequently upgrade once I’ve completed a course in order to take the tests and get a certificate. “You can upgrade a course at any time – before, during or after the course to get the benefits mentioned above. For example if you decide to upgrade your course after it ends, and want a certificate – you’ll be able to go back and do any tests to make sure you qualify for one.” Sorry, I should have paid more attention. But, my points on being able to test your knowledge without having to upgrade, and making the certificates more affordable still stand. Perhaps you could try reducing the cost of certificates ‘for a limited period only’ and see what the take up is?

      • Leonard P

        I assume you would have to upgrade within the end of course 14 day time limit otherwise you would have no access to the course material.

        • Lorraine L

          Hmmm, I’m not sure. Any time should mean any time! I should be able to see the course by title amongst a list of courses that I have completed. Or so this leads me to think. I guess upgrading would release the course content back to me. But that an assumption!

  • George Williams

    As a pensioner who does the courses for my own interest and to keep my brain active the fact that the courses were free was very important to me. I am usually able to finish the courses on time so the restrictions on time probably won’t bother me and I will continue to do the excellent courses. I shall however choose very carefully in the future and whatever my first course is under the new scheme will tell me whether I will continue with future learn. I assume that what is not available in the free option will be made clear on each course..

  • Terry Loane

    I must say I find the mendacious use of the word ‘upgrading’ deeply saddening. Unless I have misunderstood something, those who do choose to pay will get nothing more for their money than those who chose to pay for certificates in the past. So nothing has been ‘upgraded’ for them. Those who choose not to pay are experiencing a ‘downgrade’ in their access to learning resources as they will no longer be able to do tests or to access the material for much longer than the duration of the course. So what is actually happening is ‘downgrading’, not ‘upgrading’. This is surely a clear example of Orwellian ‘doublespeak’: trying to fool people by saying one thing when your meaning is the exact opposite. It makes me both sad and angry that an institution with such a long educative tradition as the OU should feel the need to debase itself by using language in such a dishonest way.

    • corinna anderson

      Hi can you do the course for free then if you want to sit a test and pay for the result?

  • Steve

    I have completed and enjoyed a lot of courses over the past couple of years. One of the main attractions is being tutored in subjects outside one’s education core subjects that otherwise one probably wouldn’t consider. I am disappointed that a fee is being introduced but I guess it is inevitable it will definitely put me off joining courses in the future even if a watered down version of the course is free.

  • Wafa

    because I am in Yemen , I could not finish my courses at the right time , I thought I would be able to finish them as soon as I can ( we are having problems with electricity and internet ),best wishes for all

  • Kaye

    While I understand the need to raise revenue, the prices you have stated for upgrading are too high. I doubt very much whether I will use FL again at that price point, even though I value the courses I have taken here very highly. Like many others who commented here, I never finish my courses within the allotted time. I like to dip in when I have time, and often have a few on the go st the same time.
    I’d suggest charging less for each course “upgrade”” e.g £5-10 or having an low cost annual subscription.

    Thank you for what you’ve provided up until now but i think this proposal goes against the values FL is supposed to stand for.

  • Laura

    I’m massively disappointed with these changes.
    There have been several occasions where multiple courses I have been interested in have started on the same date – I wouldn’t have been able to complete them all if they’d only been available for 14 days after.
    I also hate the idea that the free level is ‘reduced’ – I’ve listed all the courses I’ve taken on my CV (you’re right to say the certificates carry little value, as it seems that just a commitment to lifelong learning is enough for employers) , so will I now have to state they are ‘reduced’ versions to be transparent?!
    I’ve actively promoted FutureLearn amongst family and friends on the basis that you offer free, convenient learning – those qualities will unfortunately be mutually exclusive now.
    I would happily pay an annual subscription (say £30) for access to the same service I received previously, but expecting a small number of people to pay per course in order to support a free (but ‘reduced’) level is daft. Make everyone pay a smaller amount and you’ve got a sustainable business.
    I also think the term ‘upgrading’ is offensive, as many others have pointed out. Trying to sell this like it’s a new benefit is crazy.

  • Dick Northcote

    I must join the ranks of the pensioners who say they do not need certificates, do the Future Learn courses for fun and to keep the brain ticking over and only use the tests to confirm to myself that I have understood content and principles. A fee to belong to Future Learn of say £20 and the option, as now, to buy certificates would be my preference.

  • Hanan

    I’m wondering is this also for classes I had taken already because I review what I learned?

  • Chaz Wilson

    The value of the Jamaican dollar is lower than Britian Ja 160.00 = Gbr = 1.00

  • Chaz Wilson

    Some of us live in different countries, how are we going to pay. I thank you for your updates and info and sincerely hope that you continue giving feedback.

  • Niken

    I’ve joined and finished a course, and I’d love to have a certificate that show my grade (i.e. test result), like ones in upgraded courses I believe. Should I re-join the course (and upgrade) to take the test, or could I just pay the upgrade fee and take the test?

  • Brenda Young

    What an excellent development from future learn. Perhaps courses could still keep there in course tests for people who don’t want/need certificate but like the challenge of the tests for personal satisfaction and achievement, but I wholeheartedly support the changes.

  • Carol

    This is concerning news for me and I’m sure for many others. Due to unforeseen circumstances I have been unable to complete my Genealogy course, but had intended to continue to completion in the next 2 weeks and purchase a certificate. When I joined it was with the understanding at the course would remain open until it was signed off as completed giving people the opportunity to study as time allows. Does this notification mean my unfinished course will no longer be visible to me?

    • Tina Mason

      Hi Carol,

      No. As I understand it, just about the only good thing about this notification is it WON’T affect any courses you’d already started prior to 6th March. You’ll be able to access the materials for as long as they’re still hosted on Futurelearn, and finish when you like, just as you did in the past. The change comes with new courses you take from 6th March onwards. With those, non fee-payers will only get the course duration plus 14 days FROM WHEN THEY START before they lose access. Unfortunately “When you start” is measured from when you enrol, not the first date you actually did anything, so if you pre-enrol for a course, but don’t actually get round to starting until it’s halfway through, the clock will still run as if you’d started on Day 1. Again, my understanding – I’m just a fellow student, not associated with FL – is the only way to stop the clock ticking from Day 1 is NOT to be enrolled on the course. So if in any doubt whether you can commit to starting on time, it’s better not to be enrolled, otherwise your time will start running before you’ve even done anything. 🙁

  • Carol

    This is concerning news for me. I have not been able to complete the Genealogy course as yet due to unforeseen circumstances. Does this mean I will be unable to login and continue to completion next week as planned? Please advise. I too would have purchased a Certificate for this course on completion. Now I am unsure.

  • Huyen

    In my opinion,free learning English courses is good for many people . Specially, they are not money enough to participate a english course. Thank to this web, we can to access useful courses to gain my knowledge.

  • Patricia Buckley

    I, too, am disappointed to hear of these changes to OpenLearn. I have really enjoyed the courses that I have studied and felt a great sense of achievement with the tests, even though the certificates haven’t been of interest to me.

  • Craig Feutrill

    I have undertaken 8 free courses over the last couple of years, and enjoyed the experience offered by each – including undertaking the quizzes and tests. I guess this is where Futurelearn and I part company as the free aspect does not include the tests any longer and I see this as an important aspect of testing your understanding of the coursework. I searched for and found other free courses that still offer tests/exams as part of the learning experience. I wish the best for your new model.

  • Alanna

    I have recommended this site to a lot of friends and family because the free, take-as-long-as-you-need nature of the courses made it less scary to get back into learning or take a course in a subject one never would have otherwise explored. I appreciate that courses are still free, but the time constraints will definitely be a large deterrent to signing up. I wish there was a low cost membership option. I would happily pay $15 a year for full access to courses, and pay for certificates/tests/etc as they become relevant.

  • Kenneth

    Context that is

  • Kenneth

    Hi there I was surprised that any of these courses have been FOC to be honest. I think no one can complain. You don’t get anything for nothing in this day and age. Don’t quite understand the rationale for giving a free course and restricting elements of it….?

    Also believe that levels of course when teaching technical subjects needs to be better explained,perhaps traffic light system. Most people on my last course were retired lecturers ,students who clearly knew much more than I did. Evident during the posts,put me off a bit. A picture used in the correct contents sometimes explains all the technical stuff…… only my opinion.

  • Sharon

    I have completed one course and paid for the certificate and skimmed two others that were not at a deep enough level to be worth buying a certificate but were still of interest. Many of the participants on the course I paid for were retired health care staff that added a wealth of knowledge to the content. From what I have read in the comments, many these type of participants will be moving on to other educational platforms where they can take their time and refer back to information. Unfortunately this means that the participative value of the course may be devalued to an extent. I would like to suggest 2 alternative arrangements. i) that you can join a course and see its content for a week for free so you can see if its suitable for your needs and ii) after the one week preview period you will then be asked to pay a smaller amount (10 pounds seems reasonable) to keep the current benefits. Those that have a use for the rather expensive certificates can still pay for them

  • Sara B

    Whilst I understand the need to introduce these fees, I am very disappointed that I received the e-mail notification about them only today, the day the changes are implemented. Surely some notice could have been given about this change rather than it being a fait accompli? Very disappointed at how this has been handled.

  • Jan H

    As far as I can see, this upgrade is optional and should not deter some of those posting below from participating in further courses.

    • Charl

      That’s the impression I got as well! You can choose to upgrade, but you don’t have to so can still carry out the courses for free just with less access.

  • carolyn alexander

    I fully understand why you have taken this step, and am not at all surprised as I thought it was amazing that these courses were all available for free! However, at the end of the last course I finished – Genealogy researching your family tree – I decided to buy a certificate. This was not because I needed one to show CPD but purely as a ‘thank you FL’ and a way of helping to fund Future Learn. I have been using Future Learn to keep my brain in study mode whilst taking time off from my OU degree. For those that can’t afford it but who need to study for career purposes, there are usually various funding streams available such as employer sponsorship, grants etc. The quality of courses from FL is extremely high and excellent value for money.

    • Sahndra Nelson

      So well put Carolyn. It has been an absolute gift to have totally free access till now. I am grateful the opportunity to have free access for length of course + 2 weeks will remain.. The quality of the 2 courses i have participated in (Literature and Mental health & Genealogy) have given me such enrichment in having opportunity to learn with others from people who clearly have passion for, and a commitment to providing access to ongoing learning.
      However your comments bring home to me the importance of purchasing certificates where i can as a way of saying ‘thank you’. Here’s to Future Learn continuing to be accessible to all who choose, in the form they can afford.

  • John K

    I have participated in FutureLearn almost since the beginning, and have taken many, many courses. I will most likely continue taking free courses. I have two constructive suggestions.

    First, many’s the time I’ve gone back to courses to retrieve a link, resource, or recommendation that a fellow learner shared. I understand that storage space isn’t free, but perhaps there could be an intermediary price point for those like myself who value the social learning aspect of the courses? Alternately, allow learners to download a text file version of the forums in which they participate?

    Second, the one thing FutureLearn can offer to make it totally worth paying for, is transferable academic credits.

    So, here’s my suggested chart:
    FREE: access to the course, forums, and quizzes for 200% of the course duration. That way, longer courses will have more overtime available. I think the two week limit is too arbitrary.
    SMALL FEE: Same as above, with either downloadable comments files or access to the course comments forums for, say, three years.
    LARGE FEE: Same as above, with transferable academic credit or professional certification. This could also include more-extensive assessments.

  • Steve R

    As a retired medic I have taken a number of courses on subjects of interest for me, purely to keep the brain working. I don’t need a certificate so perhaps Future Learn is not for me. In spite of being retired, or because of it, I often don’t have the time to do the course until much later than when first made available. I have never participated in online discussions and I don’t use the “discussion” option as I rarely find the comments useful and I am sure I would have little useful to state as an uniformed student of the chosen subject. So it’s a shame but I am unlikely to use Future Learn again. But I understand the problem. As with a previous commentator I thought that the supplying academic body would garner some paying students, and would, therefore, use the FL courses as a lost leader. My wife and I finished a degree with the OU the year before last, having paid a fair cost for the courses.

  • Marie-Christine Charlotte

    I am really disappointed by this change! When I started the course on Japanese civilization through books I did not know if I would have a sufficient level in English to follow it and if the topic was really going to interest me. I tried because it was free, I continued because it was exciting and finally I upgraded after the result of the exam because I had a very good result. The amount for me who is retired requires a sacrifice but the course had been so rejoicing that I was happy to participate in the expenses.
    I started a Norwegian course because it is free but I found it really too difficult for a real beginner so for now I have stop it I was happy there was np fees
    There are other platform with fees i don’t subscribe mays be you can call sponsors to help ypu in this beautifull mission

  • Christopher Amory

    Can you confirm that the courses I joined before the 6 March 2017 will be accessible for more than fourteen days?I am extremely grateful for the courses being free, but like Michelle cannot complete them within the schedule because of other calls on my time.
    The comment from Asif went straight to my heart; surely there will be large numbers who are in a similar position, and the noble principle of access to scholarship for everyone that underpinned the OPenUniversity and this wonderful off-spring Future Learn, makes a very strong argument for Future Learn to apply for funding from the Overseas Aid budget?

  • Sue Thackray

    How is it that some of the comments here are over 5 days old? I have only just received this email this afternoon. I am disappointed that you will only be able to access the course content for 14 days after the end of the course as I frequently get very behind because other things in my life get in the way of studying. I have no interest in paying for a certificate at the end of a course as I’m retired and have no need for further qualifications. As many others have stated, I do the courses to keep my brain active and it has been good to do a variety of short courses. I appreciate that it costs to develop the courses and would be happy to pay an annual subscription to access courses. The course I am currently studying, Italian for Beginners, is in 6 parts and we are currently on part 5. Does the change mean that I will only have access to part 6, which has yet to begin, for 14 days after the finish of the course?

    • Su Mitchell

      Hi Sue – I received two emails – one today – but one previously. The timing of the 14 days depends on when you start the course. So my understanding is you get the length of the course plus 14 days. This would mean that if you start a course after its start date the amount of time you get counts from when you start – not from the actual start date.

  • albert

    Hello Futurelearn .I want to start this course for free . I had registration last week .Now just should waiting sytarted corse or have

  • Nazym Tolegen

    no comment

  • Karen

    Very disappointed to hear this as I will no longer be able to access courses after the two weeks post course ending.

  • Asif

    Dear Respect Sir/ Madam
    For the true, solid, attentive, regular and good student the respect scholarship on the study and on the study fees is very essential for to achieve the permission for to start the study and for to achieve the learn and knowledge. By increase the teaching fees by this decision by The Institution The Future Learn I afraid near future i can not do the study the degree program and i afraid near future i can not do the study the certified courses at The Institution The Future Learn. I myself find the difficult for to achieve the learn and knowledge by increase the teaching fees by The Institution The Future Learn. Some people who are saying teaching process and teaching fees are small I myself have identified this people are wrong and this is crime.
    Md. Asif Alamgir
    The MBA
    Eastern University, Dhaka,
    The Bangladesh.

  • Thekkedath Gopichandran

    I think it is fair that Futurelearn aims to introduce a small fee for a package of extended time of usage of its courses, access to further tests on the subjects and a Certificate of participation. Although these are not of particular interest to me, I am still happy to pay the sum as a token of appreciation; to pay on completion of any interesting and informative course that I enrol on.

  • Michael O'Connor

    While I appreciate that you are a business that needs to make a profit, I would contend that your use of the word ‘Upgrade’ is entirely inaccurate to describe the changes you are implementing. What you are doing is simply imposing a charge for what used to be offered free (course access for an unlimited period, tests, access to all the course materials, etc. ) apart from the certificate which I very much doubt many people ever wanted. I have been a fervent proponent of Future Learn since its inception and have completed numerous courses, but I very much doubt I will do any more. Even though I usually complete them within the given dates so have rarely needed any extension of time, the fact that you are now charging for the tests — which I found very useful and necessary — and even some of the course content, will render the courses of less appeal to me. I am very sad about this as in addition to enjoyment and gaining knowledge I found the courses a good way of keeping my aging brain active and delaying the threat of dementia.

  • John

    I am also disappointed and feel that paying breaks the ethos of MOOC. For £70 odd pounds I can attend a local college evening class….that provides “live interaction”. I feel the cost will deter many and agree with some comments below re paying less….probably £10-20 and having the option to donate. Maybe I don’t understand the FL business model but I would have expected the course supplier to pay a substantial amount for publicising their institution.

  • Mog


  • mark

    With all respect…I looked at the ‘petition’, saw no alternatives offered, just ‘don’t change, keep things the same’. How can FL stay in biz? We are all so spoiled with free stuff on the internet. If you need free classes, then try Utube…yes, often goofballs with a camera, but it’s free. Quality costs. Sorry.

  • Kuve Makapela

    I just want to thank future learn for giving us this great opportunity

  • Leandro

    Really? It’s a joke??
    I am very disappointed too…for me looks false advertising!

  • Abraham J Al-Davies Jr

    I knew that we will eventually get to a so-called upgrading stuff for the econometrics aspect; but I don’t need to sign a petition l’ll make sure that I Only go for the Free-Stuffs. Because I don’t need these certificates for support to a job or a college, some are as refresher courses and some to keep me busy.

  • Michelle

    I am very disappointed to hear about the restrictions you are implementing. In my situation (the mom of two young children working at home part-time) this change means 100% that I will stop following FL courses in the future. With my constantly changing, uncertain schedule, the time flexibility of the courses is the most important aspect for me. Without it, there is no point in following a course if I won’t be able to finish it. Nor is it in my financial interests to pay to continue following courses when I know it may be months before I will be able to finish them. I have really enjoyed the courses I have followed thus far. I appreciate the fact that they are up-to-date and offer material that is pertinent to current society. I am therefore very discouraged about these changes and frustrates that I must now find a new platform for such learning.

    • Ian

      Have you looked into any benefits or learning funding you might be entitled to? As thus is endorsed by recognised educational institutions you might be able to claim something.

  • Dr. Alex Sternberg

    I recently completed Part one and Part Two of the course on the Holocaust offered in conjunction with Yad Vashem. I took the test at the end of Part two. I scored low (57%) How can I retake the course? I am interested in obtaining a certificate. also How do I see the results of the test of Part One?

  • Allan Rogers

    Like Sarah Chacko I have taken several FutureLearn courses and enjoyed them. I generally have not paid for a certificate for 2 reasons. 1) mostly just following up an interest and 2) certain it would not mean anything to anyone on top of my more formal qualifications.

    It is unlikely that I will now recommend FutureLearn to others as the quality of feedback from academics / tutors has been a hit and miss affair which is so-so acceptable for free courses. Beneficial feedback has come from course members who are, it seems, better qualified in practical, and in some instances theoretical aspects, than the course leaders.

    FL provides the basic information but all to often they have re-used material which should have been updated after previous runs and feedback.

    The tests / quizzes are a vital form of feedback to the student, ie me, to establish whether I have learnt the subject or have missed detail.

    • Mo Abraham

      Good comments, Alan.
      Feedback is variable. Course comments likewise, and peer assessment can be questionable. All fine for a MOOC at no cost, but representing quality issues for a chargeable product.

  • Phil Gaskell

    This seems a very positive move. It is often difficult to do the content during the week it appears or even during the duration of the course. I can’t see that the certificates are of any real value and suspect that few people paid for them, so this option to pay for extended use should benefit Future Learn and the students. I would also say that a much lower amount would encourage more people to pay for the extensions and perhaps bring in more money longer term.

  • DF

    Limitation was always accessing the material during the course! If accessing after the course now requires payment (downgrade surely?) Value for Money becomes an issue.

    When OU went more and more online I used to download the materials and spend some time formating them as a pdf and then sending it off to a PoD printer to create a “textbook” which I could take with me and study (and refer to afterwards). It added up to £40 (for B&W) to course costs at a time when fees were already going up. There came a parting of the ways!

  • Margaret Quinn

    Its a great pity you have run out of money. I have an abhorrence to being tested and having a certificate holds no meaning for me. I have learned a lot from FL and thank you for that. I believed earlier the courses came with a benevolence and this enthused me, however the upwardly mobile may benefit from your new model good look with it. Sad now.

  • Jeanne Smith

    I have always been impressed with the quality, depth, and extensiveness of the courses I’ve done at FutureLearn, and amazed that they are provided for free, on a platform that is the best I’ve seen from a MOOC. On the other hand, the reason that I’ve taken so many courses with FutureLearn is that they are free and accessible indefinitely, since I don’t always manage to finish a course in the stated time. I will most likely not be able to afford £24 and up per course for the “upgrades”, so now face the prospect of a severely-curtailed FutureLearn experience.

  • Melissa

    The upgrading cost surely is expensive for some countries. Will there be a financial aid option?

  • Maureen

    I suggest a suite of better options:

    (1) Ask for a fee (say £20) upon sign up. To access some of the courses I’ve taken, I would have been more than willing to pay this upfront.

    (2) Keep the Certificate Upgrade option as it is right now. At least three of my courses could be upgraded to Certificates as soon as I have need of them as proof of CPD. It is ironic that Coursera introduced this option only after I lauded it as FutureLearn’s best feature.

    (3) Allow a donation option as does edX. This would be particularly favoured by LifeLong Learners or job Returners who want to say ‘thank you’. I won’t buy a Humanities Course, but I will donate to the platform.

    (4) Introduce this model for all courses offering credit. My training in international law was pretty dodgy until LouvainX’s courses on the edX platform spared my blushes! From October, they’ll be offering a course in International Investment Law. My earlier experience tells me that Verified Certificate will be well worth the $150 price.

    Keeping the material available to all enrollees, allowing transfers between sessions, would allow them to work at their own pace greatly enhancing the completion rate.

  • Mark

    I often wondered how long FL could sustain such quality for free. Moving to a pay system makes sense, really has to happen w/o huge grants and support = reality. I will still take classes as they are a bargain, fit my life, and are of superb quality. I won’t sign up for as many, but will be sure to be engaged more in those I do take, as I am paying for them. I will probably learn more in the process, too. So count me as a continuing supporter.

  • Barrie Foster

    2. Fortunately, options other than FutureLearn exist. Earlier this year I completed an online Stanford course delivered through the Google University; and I am currently embarked on an extensive EdX MOOC with Harvard University. I would suggest that learners looking for alternatives to FutureLearn should undertake a global Google search using MOOC + Subject – the nice thing about MOOCs is that geography is no barrier.

  • Barrie Foster

    1. I would have expected more precise use of language from a learning provider.

    The “upgrade” means that learners will now be obliged to pay for features that were previously free of charge. The precise description of this imposition is “downgrade”.

    Anyone with a marketing or general business background will have recognised that MOOCs are essentially a marketing mechanism for participating universities. They offer product trial, engagement with university staff, entry level involvement with subject matter and the potential for more extensive learning through (chargeable) degree or postgraduate courses. Marketing costs should be borne by the ultimate beneficiary, not the target audience. You should know this. You teach this stuff.

    Since 2014 I have completed fifteen MOOCs, twelve of which were through FutureLearn. I promote MOOC s – concept and availability – to my personal contacts and my professional client base (adding a further dimension to the marketing thrust). I consider MOOCs to be potentially on a par with Harold Wilson’s creation of the Open University in delivering an introduction to higher education and a vehicle for lifetime learning to a wide public.

    • Mo Abraham

      Good comments, Barrie; I agree with your appraisal.

  • Omtus

    Upgrade?! Do you honestly expect your students to pay for the privilege to remove an obvious “downgrade” arbitrarily foisted on them?

    Is this your plan to convert previously free participants to paying customers? Well, you’ll convert 5% and alienate the rest, that’s what you’ll get.

  • frank Cliffe

    Good news about upgrade it will be of much use and will be taken up by learners.

    • Anna

      And who do you think,if not the learners,were taking part in FL courses so far?

  • Simon Hughes

    Like some previous commentators, I am also retired and have no need for certificates of any sort so paying for one is not an option. I have completed six courses and am in the middle of one as so far, have not had to do a “test” and would not expect the absence of a test to affect my learning. It is inevitable to FL will increasing look to monetise it’s platform and this is reasonable. But if numbers drop off as a result, then maybe it will be a less popular platform for the universities – but I doubt it.

  • Andrew

    What I meant to say earlier was “Relying on a small number of paying students to fund the rest is a mistake. Reduce the cost to a couple of pounds and those of us who will leave are more likely to remain. Rather than making FL an exclusive (like a golf club!) domain use the old supermarket principle – pile it high, sell it cheap. I for one will be sorry to part company with FL. There have been many foolish business decisions make… this will join the ranks.

    • Maureen

      Agree, Andrew. I suggested an enrollment fee for the platform plus a donation option. And those who need Certificates or Credits can pay extra fees. I certainly would.

      • Stephen Cornish

        Absolutely. A small set fee of anything from £5-£10 is peanuts to most. I’d have spent that for each of the three courses I’ve done so far. As it happens, I’ve contributed nothing

      • Ashok

        I think enrolment fee would probably work for many people. Another option is a reasonable amount for annual subscription fee, we pay annual subscription for many items from Newspapers/Magazine, being part of charities and professional organisations.
        The only concern I have is people who cannot pay. Perhaps annual renewal of subscription form should go out to all registered users and if they cannot pay then they can explain why. There has to be some flexibility built in. Perhaps the person who could not afford to pay may end with a good job and be able to pay the fees or even do a degree course with OU.

  • Andrew

    Open Learn seems to have more courses and are available on demand.

  • Andrew

    Relying on a small number of paying students to fund the rest is aa mistake. Reduce the cost to a couple of pounds and those of us who will leave remain. Rather than making FL an exclusive (like a golf club!) domain use the old supermarket principle – pile it high, sell it cheap. I for one will be sorry to part company with FL. There have been many foolish business decisions make… this will join the ranks.

  • Stephen

    I see many people think this is a bad move and for some poorer people, I appreciate it may well be. However, I was (and still am) planning to buy the certificate at the end of the course I am currently on – primarily to support FutureLearn. I have seen the amount of work involved in producing the videos and other course materials and I think it’s a small price to pay. I totally understand the need to change to bring in extra revenue and am happy to support that. After all, if it’s purely the knowledge you want, it’s still going to be there, for free.

  • Alex

    “if you decide to upgrade your course after it ends, and want a certificate – you’ll be able to go back and do any tests to make sure you qualify for one.”

    You can still take free courses and postpone buying the certificate (upgrading) until later, provided you pass any tests.

  • Peter Spring

    This ‘upgrading’ proposal would work better for me if it was unbundled into the 3 components. I would probably pay to retain access to courses beyond official end of course date, as I’m old and slow. I may purchase the tests, if I thought they would improve my understanding. I don’t want to see another certificate in my life.

    As FutureLearn appears to be a company, donations are not appropriate, but something independent, like Friends of FutureLearn, could surely be set up to receive PayPal or PPPay donations to subsidise courses. I would be willing to help that happen.

    FutureLearn has blossomed, with many universities round the world now participating. It is great publicity for them, so I trust they are paying FL adequately for the (very good) infrastructure that the OU has provided.

    The Open University has some financial issues now, so FutureLearn is having to find new funds to subsidise its ‘free’ courses. If we had a half decent government, it would tax Apple, Google, Facebook and other tax-haven exploiting outfits that take billions out of the UK, but pay peanuts back in tax here, and use some of this to fund the OU properly again.

    • David

      Given I am a member of OU staff who is losing their job in 6 weeks time, I cannot be said to be a neutral observer. However I can say I wholeheartedly support what you have said about funding for higher education and taxation. We put our fees up when the Government removed funding for higher education and the result was student numbers plummeted. They have not yet recovered. I fear that Future Learn will suffer the same fate..

  • Karen

    Fully appreciate the need for sustainability of FutureLearn and great not to be bombarded with adverts. I paid for certificate but realise many cannot afford. I would pay more for more interaction with tutors. So maybe there are 4 different payment bands from free to £99.

  • Hussain Alhazmi

    I liked the site as it was before. You could buy the certificate whenever you had the money. Now, you do it there and then… or potentially miss out. I can see that the money is important to keep it running but a big part of getting money, is having learners.

  • Nina

    If money is the issue, I personally feel that the people like myself that do the courses because they are free would be happy to pay £25 for a certificate for a course on a basis as long as it was optional. If they were pleased with the courses they would pay for certificates if their finances were agreeable.

  • Dee

    I’ started a course last month so do I need to start it all over again for it to qualify for an upgrading application, please?

  • Lewis

    I wonder if you ever considered a voluntary donation system for each course like Wikipedia. I personally would have been happy to give about £5 for each of the 17 courses I have done so far. I only bought one certificate out of the seventeen courses.
    You could still have a donation system as well as the paid system, but with no benefit to the student, except for the ‘reward’ of supporting a worthy cause.

  • Jim

    It’s a shame that you are going to charge for the test & long viewing with the upgrade, I think you will loose a number of members as a result. I always thought the certificates were expensive and now I feel the upgrade are even worse, e.g. I’m currently doing some Leeds business courses, each of which are 2 hours per week for 2 weeks each and the £39 upgrade is excessive for this type of course.
    However if you had an easy donation facility I would probably have donanted a tenner for each course as I did it, in which case you would have received £290 to date, however you have received nothing.
    Keeping things affordable and easy will enable your business to florish, isn’t this what some of your courses are continually emphasising?

  • Steve L

    So you’re removing a useful feature which currently exists, access to course materials after the course ends, and making it available only to those who pay a fee. I can understand the business logic but to refer to it as an upgrade is mealy-mouthed at best.

    Ah well, it was good while it lasted. The OU had already priced me out of finishing my degree and now I won’t even be able to take a few free short courses just for interest.

  • Su Mitchell

    So for me one good thing to have come about due to the FL “upgrade” is that I have discovered Coursera and am going to give that a try 🙂

    • Sarah Anne Siteman

      Actually, Coursera does pretty much the same thing. You have a limited time to finish one run of the course, then you’re reminded to move to the next run. They will ask you to pay and send constant reminders to catch up. Some of the courses allow you to take the quizzes; some don’t. I just ignore all that and work through the classes at my own pace. I did pay for one class as I did for FutureLearn, when I thought it was warranted and it fit my budget.

      EdX is another option. It provides paid for and/or honor classes, and will let you make a small donation if you want. Then the material is available forever (so far). They don’t offer reruns as often as the other two providers.

  • Dan

    Financially I understand the decision, but the major problem is that when you say “That’s why we want to create a more useful package of features that we think provides great value to as many people as possible”, you’re not actually adding any new value, you are charging for something that was previously free. If there were actual additional features with the upgrade, I think this would be more palatable to your users. I’m quite curious to see how this will affect the business, I guess we will see.

  • Colin

    Personally, I feel you need to decide whether you are offering a public service, and therefore should be non-profit making, or whether you are a business. As soon as it feels like Future Learn are offering a two tiered educational system then it has failed to stay consistent to the values in which it has been founded upon – the values in which everyone who uses the platform have signed up to and aligned with.

    I feel that you have just put a big question mark next to the integrity and intent of Future Learn. Best to clarify your position as soon as possible.

  • Rosalie

    I completed a program that required 5 x two week courses, then payment for certificates and payment to undertake assignments that were formally assessed.

    It felt expensive because I paid the whole lot at once. However on review, the price for 15 weeks of world-class education and assessment was very reasonable. My engagement and concentration during the final assessment weeks were very high and my learning increased manifold. The whole arrangement of paying after completion of most of the program seemed a very effective way to ensure that I was undertaking study that was engaging, interesting and important for me.

    Receiving the certificates was completely meaningless for me, it was the education that I valued so much.

    These adaptations seem fair, in the context of a market economy that we live in. I only hope that the cost can be adjusted for students in countries where the UK cost is prohibitive. The whole learning community benefits from the global participation so it would be a great loss if learners from the majority world could no longer participate.

  • Angela

    I wonder why you don’t offer the digital certificates at a reduced price, say 10 or 12 pounds? Then I would gladly pay for certificates for courses I’ve completed and are relevant to my career so I could post them on my Linkedin profile. Others might feel the same and you could generate some revenue that way instead of blanket charges.

  • Rosalie

    Perhaps the time frame could be made relative to the duration of the course. A two week leeway for a two week course seems adequate, but a two week leeway for a 10 week course is not enough. It would be easy to make the materials available for free for exactly twice the duration of the course.

  • Jen

    So glad my previous courses are protected as I often go back to some of them. I understand the reasoning behind the changes. It will mean for me some pressure to complete in time and perhaps not read some of the extra material. I am retired and take the courses for leisure interest.

  • Monica

    I guess it was just too good to be true….sad but inevitable I guess in today’s world.
    They are great courses but having the time presssure of having to complete then with a set time frame probably means I will not sign up as easily.
    Thanks for everything to date.

  • Anne

    The time limit on free access will prevent me doing any more courses. I thought the whole purpose of these course was that they were free. However there are still free courses that are not time limited on OpenLearn, so I will revert to these.

    • Monica

      Hi Anne, thanks for the tip on OpenLearn….see you there!

      • Michael O'Connor

        Me too!

    • Morgaine Dinova

      Thanks Anne, I hadn’t heard of OpenLearn before. It has a good pedigree too, OU.

      On a more hopeful note, there’s a new *UPDATE* rider on this blog article, hinting that there is a response to come. It’s possible to read this either way and maybe it heralds just another brush-off. But taking the optimistic view, perhaps someone did finally face up to the so-called “upgrade” designer and forcefully explain that undermining the foundations of your business is not the road to success.

  • Chiara

    I’ve already expressed my sadness about this decision. Since Futurelearn was born I’ve talked about it and its philosophy of available high quality knowledge, for all in the world at any time, with enthusiastic words. Now I understand the problem of economic sustainability. FL hasn’t any type of advertising. But I would like to know some things: if I upgrade, a teacher will read and corrige my assignments? The type of test will be enough serious to really assess my preparation? Where my FL certificate might be recognised?

  • Chantelle

    I liked the site as it was before. You could buy the certificate whenever you had the money. Now, you do it there and then… or potentially miss out. I can see that the money is important to keep it running but a big part of getting money, is having learners.

    • Anthony D Pink

      Hi Chantelle,

      Sadly, financial sustainability is a fact of life, but don’t despair! As I read the notes above, you can do your course as before, and don’t have to pay to “upgrade” before you start. You can do so if you wish, or at any time during or after the course. Fortunately, I cannot ever seeing the fees rise to the level of those the OU levy!

      Chin up and keep studying – I am retired like many others on this course, and have been so for many years. As mine was enforced retirement through ill health, the one thing I learnt fairly soon after all the surgical operations had been brought to a premature halt, was that you need something to do to keep sane, and no matter what your other hobbies might be, studying is the key to keeping your brain active.


  • Lyn

    Very sad news indeed – as a retiree, learning at my own pace was a huge plus for FL courses. It means I will have to rush through any future courses and probably leave reading the comments as I will feel pushed for time.

  • Vladimir

    Really sad information for plenty of people from not so rich countries as UK is. I see it is a degradation of education because of restrict access for only rich people. What a dishonor. There is a lot of other opportunities to find money for education, for example from companies, EU, government, etc.

    • Rosalie

      I agree with the point about the relative cost and need to ensure that what is a fair price for someone in UK is not completely out of consideration for someone in another country.

      Would it be possible to means test the price, or somehow adjust the price to a parity price?

  • Mads Nybo Jorgensen

    Dear FutureLearn,

    You have given no time for consultation in this matter. Your blog post here does not clearly explain the financial reasoning for this decision, and how your finances are in general.

    As many others say, your certificates are of no use unless they are linked to real qualifications.

    I might as well go to Khan Academy or purchase the excellent course content offered through LinkedIn/Lynda.

    Either extend the consultation period for this change or get stuffed, as FutureLearn won’t survive if it has to force financial changes with immediate effect onto the users. Your own business courses will teach you, that is never a good way to treat current users…

  • David

    The most telling comment is the almost throwaway remark “But we’re a business”. I think that says it all. I would speculate that this is possibly a “business” that has just shot itself in the foot and there will be a drop in student participation. The course have I done have been enjoyable recreational activities. However I not think many people will be prepared to pay for them. The Open University tripled the cost of it’s modules a few years ago, and student numbers have been consistently reducing ever since. You don’t need to be an economics genius to realise that introducing charges for what was once a free product is going to see a massive drop in student numbers. Still I’m sure the accountants in charge of an educational organisation will know exactly what they re doing….

  • Elizabeth Will

    How many participants give any thought to how much it actually costs to provide the enormous range of excellent FutureLearn courses involving world-class academics that we all enjoy and get so much from? Some may be relatively cheap to organise, some may give benefits to the providing institution, but these make it possible to run all the other courses that have less popular appeal but equal social and intellectual value.

  • JR

    If these certificates are to be of any real value they must be linked to some RECOGNISED qualifications system-e.g. SCQF.

  • David Rich

    Just goes to show that these days universities are all about making money rather than education. When and why did that change…….?

  • Cress

    “No access to course tests”. So you are going the way of Coursera? For shame!

  • Desmond

    More than the sadness I feel upon learning you are compelled to seek more income for FL is the affront I feel to our intelligence in calling this an upgrade. For those who value full participation you have taken away their choice and for those who kindly contribute with learned comments and worked examples you have reduced their incentive because, in addition, for those who wish or can only afford to participate without certification you have taken away everything material after 14 days. All this with no prior consultation and with your “UPDATE” above suggesting you cannot bothered to make any individual comments to inquiries, notwithstanding the email giving notice was only received by me today. I’m sorry, Lily, I won’t be reading your messages in the future with the same, warm feeling.

  • Elizabeth Measures

    I’m very disappointed in the upgrade introduction. A very important factor todate for me is being able to dip into the course as and when convenient, and revising parts of a course as a refresher at a later stage. As a retiree who has made good use of the opportunity of these courses, some more thoroughly than others, I will not be able to continue to do so if I have to pay for each one, in particular those courses that I may have only taken up out of sheer curiousity. I understand that FutureLearn must run as a business. But this is a big leap from free to £25+. If I were to make a suggestion, I would prefer personally to pay a subscription membership, say £25 p.a. entitling me to unlimited courses, access and tests. The certificate can be at an extra charge for those who may require it. I’m sure the new upgrade will reduce the uptake significantly which is a great shame. This in turn will reduce the number of learners who may have followed up their introductory course with a degree course.

    • Lea Daranyi

      Hello! I read your comment and I suggest you the method i am using. Whenever i start a course i open a word document and i make notes, and copy all the important information into it. I keep adding things until i finish the course. This way i have all the material (in more useful notes rather than just articles), so i can go back to it any time and i dont need to use the actual course material anymore. Plus writing things down also helps my learning.

      Hope i helped!
      Happy learning!

    • Elle Ferguson

      I agree with you, learning a language is a hobby for me. I don’t need a certificate and also cannot always dedicate the four – six weeks each course requires. I would rather pay an annual fee (small) and have the option to buy an additional certificate if I want to than to be forced to pay a fee for each course I do. 🙁 its a shame that profit come first

  • James Winfield

    Disappointed that I will only be able to take the courses during the specified times plus 14 days.

    This will definitely put me off from joining any more courses as it is rare that I get to the end on time – in fact I never have done.

  • Bill

    Very disappointing. One of the attractions of these free courses was that you could complete them ‘at your own pace’. Now it’s to be course duration + two weeks or pay up! At 79 I don’t want to be rushed like that and I certainly can’t pay upwards of £24 for each course. Like MagR I would be happy to make a donation – some courses on Coursera, for example, welcome donations of $10, but it is not compulsory. Sorry, FutureLearn – definitely a move in the wrong direction. I’ll stick with the free courses.

  • Alec Melvin

    Why is FL talking about upgrading these courses when, in effect, it is downgrading them unless you pay? It is necessary to do the tests to see if you have understood the content. Certificates are irrelevant. I might just stick to Coursera.

    • Michael O'Connor

      Yes, I agree, Alec. A lot of people on here have commented on the fact that the free courses will now have a time limit imposed on doing them, but my major concern is that by removing the tests (which like you I consider absolutely necessary) and withholding some of the course content, the free courses will just be incomplete and therefore pointless.

  • Su Mitchell

    While I can appreciate that FL has to make things pay – it seems to me that the new system will be of greatest disadvantage to those who are most disadvantaged. So people who are slower or who have things in themselves or in their lives that slow them down will have to pay to over come this. Or do you have policies and procedures in place to allow accessibility to all by granting additional time and or other concessions to those who need it? Also – it seems harsh not to allow access to tests without an upgrade for those who work within the timeframe. I trust that when you advertise the courses you will make it clear which have tests that will only be accessible with an upgrade. I have been recommending FL to friends – but will be forwarning them now.

  • Sarah Chacko

    I have taken several FutureLearn courses, enjoyed them, and never paid for a certificate for 2 reasons. 1) wasn’t sure it would mean anything to anyone on top of my more formal qualifications and 2) mostly just following up an interest.

    I can see why you are trying a new model. However, I would think for a university it’s not wasted time and money as they get good advertising of their skills, a better score for outreach, and practice in using modern communications methods. And videos etc can be reused.

    Am I right that the main difference is non paying students get limited time access and paying students get new more thorough tests? Quizzes remain for both. Is there any plan to validate courses at some level so the certificates mean more to an employer or professional body?

  • Shannon

    Wow, I’m really gutted about these changes. I understand that overheads need to be met, but do you really have to implement a time-limit on free access? I’m a full-time working professional and have a family. My budget is ridiculously tight and my time even more so. I’ve never finished a FL course within the allotted time (sometimes it takes me 6 months or more to complete a course), but I still come back when I have a few moments to spare because I love the topics offered and it’s an affordable way to learn new things that I wouldn’t otherwise likely study. I don’t have the financial resources to pay to keep a course accessible, just to be able to finish it when I’m able. And there’s not much point signing up to a course only to have access to it end before I can finish (or even start!). I think what FL is going to find is that uptake of the courses drops off because many of us don’t have £30-70 per pop to spare and we have busy lives that prevent us working through the course content in the narrow time window in which it is offered for free. I’ve enjoyed such a tremendous resource in this site and told so many about it. It’s depressing to see this happen.

    • Heather

      I feel the same. I gave mental health problems myself and cannot afford to study anywhere but Future learn. I care for my disabled partner and a certificate costs quite a bit out of our budget, there are courses I have passed and am saving up to gain certificates for. For someone like me who is returning to the job market, certificates matter. I don’t have time to complete courses in the recommended timeline either. So these changes price me out of learning with Future Learn.

      • Maureen

        Heather, I made the same points in my lengthy comment to this blog. Being able to purchase certificates at a later date was the site’s unique selling point. After a group of us pointed this out to Coursera, they changed their system.

        Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved so far and I trust that FutureLearn will take all comments on board.


  • Catharine Sharples

    This change is very unfortunate. I have done several excellent Futurelearn courses and I thought they were often a ‘marketing tool’ to entice students to further their studies with the providing university. Some courses clearly use ready-made material, which is fine. The moderating and mentoring aspects which are so useful do of course cost money.

    I realise that money is tight.

    I have never bought a Statement of Participation for the simple reason that it is not worth it. Halfway through each course I have received an email inviting me to buy one saying that I am halfway through the course and have attempted every question, perhaps not getting any of them right!!

    Instead of penalising the many people who enjoy learning and in particular those who have difficulty completing courses on time, you should make the Statement of Participation prove competence. Rather than denying access two weeks after the course has finishes, you could simply close it for discussion but leave the materials available as now.

  • Roy Toon

    Have enjoyed trying out new areas of interest and dipping into study again beyond career needs. This finance driven move will no doubt reduce involvement from individuals like me who no longer need Certificates – and others who may not be able to pay easily. End of an era for FL – business trumps education. Sad indeed.

  • Fatih

    I’ll move my free-learning elsewhere 🙂

  • Viktoria

    Dear Staff,
    Sorry to bother – but I’m not sure what’s happening with the Study UK Campaign courses! Not only does it explicitly say that it “applies to Eligible Courses… commenced by an Eligible Learner before 31 March 2016 and completed before 31 May 2017” – I specifically inquired, and was reassured by your Team (p.1, 6 days ago) that “for any course you’ve joined that started before 6 March… includ[ing] courses offering a free certificate… no need to rush.” I.e. I can quietly complete, and get the Certificate (thank you!!) for at least courses started before Mar 6! So it was an unpleasant surprise, when after working overnight to finish Psychology and Mental Health, I saw that instead of “You could get a free Certificate..” it says “Buy a personalised… certificate..”!
    I wanna hope that it’s some kind of tech glitch, perhaps related to your upgrading – could you check that, please? I’m well into a couple more courses, and in fact, I spent my time doing them based on that 31 March 2017 “Closing Date“, even if I didn’t mean to wait until last minute, of course. Sorry I discovered this Campaign so late – and had to work SO HARD on the courses of interest to me!
    THANK YOU!!!

    • Melissa

      Have you hit the limit of 20 free certificates? The “Buy a personalised… certificate” message appeared when I had 20 certificates. Other than this reason, I hope your issue is a technical glitch.

      • Viktoria

        Oh, no — I haven’t, and I wasn’t gonna come even close to that! :)) Dear Melissa, are you from the Staff? – Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear here next to the posters’ names like in other places… Thank you for the encouragement anyway!)
        And could someone from Staff check this on your end, please please? I also still hope it’s a technical glitch — but so far, it persists! ((
        Thanks again so much in advance!!!

        Yours truly

        • Reema Mehta

          Hi Viktoria,

          Sorry for taking a few days to get back to you. The Study UK Campaign is still running for learners who have already started courses that are part of the campaign. We’re still offering free certificates to these learners, until they run out.

          As Melissa says above, the only reason you should now be seeing a message to buy a certificate is if you’ve reached the limit of 20 free certificates. If you haven’t reached this limit, I’m not sure why you’re seeing the message to buy. If you get in touch with our support team at, they should be able to investigate and figure out what’s going on.

          • Viktoria

            Dear Reema,

            Thanks a lot! I’ll write them shortly! – It still persists, although I’m very far from the limit of 20 free certificates…

            Best regards

          • Viktoria

            SO EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with FL!!! Not only didn’t you mention in reply to my original inquiry the current 5 course limit — it appears, you yourself are unaware of it! The best part — Campaign’s Terms & Conditions DON’T SAY A WORD about that!!! Incredible — indeed, left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing… & as a result, I spent A GREAT DEAL OF MY TIME AND EFFORT on the last 2 courses to finally discover I can’t get a Certificate for them! That’s a shame, FutureLearn!!
            Perhaps you could talk to Helen about that?

  • Tim

    It’s interesting that in several replies you state that much of the money goes to the u Iver sites putting green together the courses.
    I recently had a discussion with a lecturer from Southampton Uni where FL came up by chance (the meeting was about something unrelated). She said that FL courses were generally very cheap to put together, and as they got more students to to sign up for undergraduate or postgraduate courses they had worked out that they make a profit by providing the free FL courses.
    So either you are deflecting focus from yourselves and using the course providers as a scapegoat, or in this world of monetised education the universities have seen that they can screw some more cash out of FL. Neither of these are pleasant scenarios.

    Of course, as you go down this monetised route, your customers will expect a certain level of course quality and service, as universities found when they ramped up student fees. Whilst most courses are fair to good, I suggest a public course feedback system is needed to avoid people wasting money on poor courses, or will you offer refunds?

  • MagR

    Sad – as so many will now not be able to take courses

    Sad – because this was an opportunity to show prospective overseas students who can afford to pay for their education that British Universities are among the best in the world – + to help those who can’t afford to pay for education at all

    Sad- because I have several times offered to donate – I do not want or need a certificate. I would have been happy to donate £10/15 – but £69 is not good value for a course that is only mildly interesting to me.

    Sad – because I will only opt for courses I am only mildly interested in now if I am certain I can complete in the timescale.

    Sad because if I don’t go for your new system but opt to finish within the 14 day deadline FutureLearn still won’t have the £10/15 I would have been willing to donate.
    Sad because I have recommended FutureLearn to so many retired acquaintances who do not have company pensions, so live on state pension alone, and most will now have to forego this wonderful resource completely.

    I appreciate that FuturLearn has to pay its bills but I suspect that they might have been able to find a less ‘blunt instrument’ method of doing so.

    Sad – all very sad.

    • Terry Duerden MRICS

      For so many negative comments why is there no response from FL?

      • Vicky

        I’m sure they are looking for a solution. It takes time. Anyway I’m surprised about the news. Our reactions are expected.

  • James

    It is not surprising to hear this, but please make sure your pricings are affordable to everybody!

    My suggestions:

    (1) In addition to Paper Certificates, please allow the Certificates listed in our Futurelearn Account under “Your Profile – Achievements” are all downloadable digital certificates and digital transcripts as soon as possible.

    (2) In your upcoming courses, please award Digital Badges upon completion of each module or at least give us a Digital Course Badge upon completion of the whole course. The Open University: Badges demonstrate your interest in a subject, evidence of continuing professional development or a commitment to your studies.

    Thank you

  • Sarah Anne Siteman

    I may have posted this question in the wrong thread earlier so here it is again: I’m one of those retired people who take free online classes just for the pleasure of learning. Since I seldom finish classes within the schedule I have a few questions.

    Will our progress be carried over to the next run of the class? Coursera does that, sometimes allowing tests, sometimes not. Then when, or if, I decide to try for a certificate, at least I can tell which steps I still have to take.

    Will we still have the option to pay for a certificate for a class that we started before March 7th? I’m working on one, out of many, that I was planning to pay for once I finish it.

  • Pauline

    I understand you can’t get a Certificate if you don’t upgrade, but what about a Statement? Do you still get the option to buy one of those on a free course?

  • Aymen

    Dear Reema Mehta

    Interactive with Futurelearn for many years and celebrating first million and second million of

    learning could not be memories to forget. Today I open my email again .. reading tons of

    emails sent to tell me that there are a new courses open ,, come and participate , and I did

    as many other friends and college here did .. I sent futurelearn to my friends and tell them to

    study in Futurelearn. I got more excited about British council and futurelearn who

    offer 10000 free certificates for many countries around the world which looks as a golden

    opportunities for students need financial aid to get a certificates.

    For those memories and others. I wish futurelearn team a day full with smiles and

    good thoughts .



  • Sarah-Jane

    I’m really disappointed with the limit to the time courses will be available after they finish. I have multiple disabilities. Of the few FL courses I’ve completed, I’m pretty sure that all of them took me longer than 14 days after the end date. I also like the fact that I can look back at those I’ve finished to refresh my memory.

    I started using FL for something to do, to keep my brain active, after Open Uni courses became prohibitively expensive (as well as requiring work that I’m not always capable of doing, and the huge cost makes it a big risk because of being unsure whether I could do the work). I’ve never really got on with Open Learn; Future Learn is a lot clearer and easier to understand and follow.

    I feel like FL has created a great resource, drawn people in, and now drops the bombshell that you’ll have to pay to get the access you previously had. Which is just not possible for many people, and not going to happen for me.

    I’ve left the courses I’d registered on that start after March 6th. I don’t see the point in starting courses when the chances are I’ll lose access before I’ve finished.

    I’m not only disappointed, I’m sad about the changes.

    • Tina Mason

      I feel the same, Sarah-Jane. I’ve probably already had enough of a beef about it here, so time for me to shut up soon, but like you, I have health issues, and have already been priced out of the market for conventional OU courses, as well as having doubts about whether I could sustain the workload. The way things are going, there will soon be no flexible and affordable education of any kind, and those of us who are ill or disabled, but don’t qualify for loans or grants (because we’ve studied to the same or higher level before – even if we self-funded) will be condemned to be stuck at home with our brains turning to mush, because nobody thinks there’s any point letting us learn things that won’t lead to a return to the workplace.

      I realise this is is partly a gripe about government policy, not just with the OU/FL, but I am annoyed – I paid for ALL my higher education, to degree level and beyond. Not loans, not grants – my own money. I wasn’t to know I’d get ill and not use any of it, but now I’m denied any financial assistance to do something different, because you’re only allowed one crack, even if you didn’t get ANY state funding to do it.

      • Tim

        A great pity but I guess it was always on the cards and rather like the way the O.U went. I did two degrees through the OU when it started but could never afford to study with them these days. I can recommend TED talks as a way of keeping the grey matter occupied. Guess I had better crack on with those FL courses I have yet to complete.

      • jennyh

        Finishing a course on time is often difficult. I, too have health issues which means some days I struggle to function. The whole point of doing an online course is flexibility, so, at the very least, please extend the completion time to 28 days rather than 14.

  • Sally

    What a shame. I promoted Future Learn to all my friends and circle who are all life long learners. Surely the courses are a taster promotion for the OU to gain greater uptake? Why does it cost money to keep content on line for ever and why should it cost to produce an on line test or course quiz? I often sign up for more than one course that starts at a certain date but never do them all at once, knowing that I can dip in and out at any time. I like to go back after many months and just re do the quizzes to see if I have remembered and absorbed the knowledge.
    Very disappointing.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Sally,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

      We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

      Our courses are provided by a wide range of international universities and institutions, not just the OU. Producing high quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. We’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible – introducing upgrading is part of doing that.

      Please be reassured that you’ll continue to have unlimited access to any course you’ve joined that started before 6 March – for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

      Additionally, if you choose not to upgrade you can still access the majority of the course for free – including quizzes and assignments.

      • Morgaine Dinova

        > Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

        Sally does not “feel that way”. She is telling you that it is that way, and she is the best and only judge of that.

        > We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning.

        If that were the case, you wouldn’t have knowingly reduced the number of non-paying people who will take your courses, nor would you have reduced the quality of education received by your paying students who will no longer receive feedback from the non-paying students who you no longer attract.

        If you truly wanted to provide the benefits of great learning to as many people as you can, you wouldn’t be cutting off the non-paying students after 14 days. The only purpose in degrading the non-paying experience in that way is to make the paid “upgrade” appear better by comparison to what non-paying students used to get, as many people here have written.

        Also, I’m not sure how you can ethically justify removing the access of non-paying students to the posts that they have contributed towards improving the learning of others, while continuing to make those posts available to the paying students. This is distant from being equitable.

  • Aitch

    I would prefer to be able to make a donation occasionally.
    Being permanently disabled and with a brain injury (brainstem stroke), means that it is a challenge to keep up with the coursework. I appreciated the fact that the courses remained online after the initial proposed dates. Also I enjoyed doing the tests.
    The cost of receiving a certificate has hindered me in the past. I feel that if the cost of the certificates were less, I and many others would readily pay for them.
    Indeed if the costs of these upgrades were less, or perhaps segmented, I myself would regularly make contributions.
    I have very much enjoyed the Future Learn experience, but am uncertain these upgrades are the best way forward.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Aitch,

      Thanks for your comment.

      We realise that learners’ individual circumstances mean people may need more flexibility in accessing courses. Alongside these changes, we are aiming to run our courses more frequently and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

      Before we introduced upgrading we carried out a significant amount of research to understand what our learners value. We tested the balance between what our learners felt provided good value for money, whilst continuing to offer as much as we can for free: something we feel very strongly about.

      However, we are continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can improve on this to make sure learners are getting the best value for money from their learning.

      We’ve also explored a number of alternative models with our learners, but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view. So thanks very much for your feedback on a donation model or alternative ways of paying for upgrades – we’ll definitely take this on board.

  • Helen

    I think I am surprised by a few things about this. Firstly, that the Open University is stopping funding for Futurelearn. I thought the OU was giving money to Futurelearn as it has been allowed to increase its fees massively in the last few years, despite not having anything like the same overheads as “bricks and mortar” universities. So I naively thought they were giving something back. Secondly I am surprised that Futurelearn pays the universities for the courses as I thought they used them as marketing tools for their pay-for courses. After completing courses I have been sent information about various MAs/further language courses etc, which I am happy to receive.

  • Daniel Rhodes

    Not surprised to hear this, but it rather sounds like a very fiddly and indirect way of charging for each course. And if you pay to upgrade, do you still need to pay for the certificate?

    Though the fact that the courses are free is very very powerful.

    Arbitrarily removing access to the course and the comment walls for non-upgraded members seems a tad cruel.

    Not the end of the world but a bit confusing…

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment.

      One of the benefits of upgrading a course is that you get a certificate when you complete the course. You won’t have to pay separately for the certificate, this is included in the overall upgrade package. However, what this does mean is that for courses offering upgrades, you can no longer buy a certificate separately – you must upgrade to get one.

      Before we introduced upgrading we carried out a significant amount of research to understand what our learners value. We tested the balance between what our learners felt provided good value for money, whilst continuing to offer as much as we can for free: something we feel very strongly about. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view.

      • Morgaine Dinova

        The big question that a lot of people are probably asking themselves is why your only idea for making the paid course more attractive was to make the non-paid course enormously worse.

  • Linda Thomas

    Dear Matt, I would like clarification about how long the material will be available to us under the new scheme. I know you’ve said the duration of the course plus two weeks, from when you commence it, but what is considered ‘commencing’? I often have a quick look at the ‘to do’ list before I decide which course to start first (as I always have more than one on the go, and often they start on the same date). Will this be regarded as starting? And what about introducing oneself – is this starting? Or is it as soon as I click on the first ‘to do’? Please clarify. I would also like to say I am profoundly disappointed by this change although I understand your need to generate income. I think it would be far better to charge everyone a small sum (£5, say) to undertake every course and have permanent access to the material. I have promoted Futurelearn so heavily to all my friends and relatives on the basis that “there’s no rush, you can study at your own pace, the material’s there for good” – I really feel this will put many people off taking a course at all.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for the comment – and apologies for the lack of clarity on how long you’ll have access to courses for as a free learner.

      – For courses that you enrol on before the course starts – you’ll have access for the duration of the course + 14 days, starting from the course start date.
      – For courses that you enrol on after the course starts – you’ll have access for the duration of the course + 14 days, starting from the day you enrol.

      I hope this makes things clearer!

      I’m sorry you feel this way about the changes. As I’ve mentioned below, our business model relies on a small number of people purchasing something that they value in order to keep the courses free for everyone to access. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view – and we’ll definitely be taking your feedback on board.

      • Tina Mason

        Oh, that is even worse than I thought. I routinely “enrol” on courses as soon as they are available to do so, even if it’s rather unlikely I’ll start (or finish) on time. Like Linda, I always have more than one on the go (it’s currently four, and I’m well behind with all of them!)

        So if I were taking these same courses for free under the new scheme, they would all cease to be available at their end dates plus 14 days, because I would count as having started on Day 1, regardless whether I’d even popped in for a glance at the materials.

        So I should only ever enrol once I’m certain I have the time to start (and finish)? No more signing up for three or four at once, and just seeing how it goes?

        This is an area where the short notice of the changes will affect people. I’m enrolled on at least one course that starts after 6th March (there may be more – I haven’t checked).

        With hindsight, in the light of these changes, it would have been better not to sign up until the day I’m ready to start. What happens if I withdraw from a course I’m enrolled on before the start? Will I still count as having started, or can I re-enrol once it’s in progress? Or even after the end date?

  • David Fernando

    I understand your new policy, but my great concern is how to pay. You do not accept transfer and I do not have master card our visa. I have already completed some courses and I would like to buy A Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation, but I cannot do it. I am writing from Luanda, in Angola. Southern Africa and things in my country have been really difficult. We do not have any access to foreign currency and I do not know how long it is going to last
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that you are unable to use the payment methods we currently offer.

      We are actively working on ways to make purchasing easier and more appealing for our international learners. You might have noticed that we’ve recently started to introduce other currencies. Our next steps will be to explore how our prices translate internationally as we recognise that product value and disposable income is different across the world.

      We are also currently investigating how we can introduce more payment methods – we hope to be able offer additional methods in the coming months. In the meantime, we welcome any and all feedback on this from our international learners.

  • Sandra Sparks

    I will surprise you, and have no complaint. I’ve been expecting this for ages. You should bring in an income. Thank you for understanding there are many who are retired and not doing this for formal study. I’ve always joined in to aid with the teaching, not the studying, of some of the courses, because I realized there were so many students no set of moderators could possibly handle all the questions. The insistence on taking tests always irritated me. I got to where I wasn’t participating anymore, and kept forgetting to come back. Now, the ones that are in my fields I can take for free and join in the current conversation, and those I truly want to study, things I’m not familiar with, I will pay to join. Thank you for keeping a free option possible for those of us who come back again and again!

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Sandra, thanks very much for your positive feedback. It’s great to hear about how you’ve been participating on courses – thanks from the team for your active role in answering other learners’ questions as well as in learning yourself!

  • Jennifer Dyke

    I fully understand your need for future income, but would it not be preferable to charge everyone a modest fee per course (say £5-£10) which would include long term access to course materials, and those who need a certificate of participation for professional or other reasons can still upgrade as before. Those learners who have absolutely no use for a certificate will see your new measure as a ‘downgrade’, and will be put off enrolling in the first place, which defeats the object of education for all. I have enjoyed going back over the course material for various literature courses I have taken in the past, and this pleasure will now be denied me on future courses. Elderly people like myself and my friends take multiple courses for the sheer pleasure of learning, and will be put off enrolling in the first place if they have to pay quite a high sum (for them) for continued access to the material. I have already resigned from the course I was due to start on March 20th.

    • Linda Thomas

      I completely agree with you, Jennifer. I too often like to look back at courses I have completed, to refresh my memory of the content and sometimes for better understanding. Also I’m such an enthusiast I tend to sign up for several courses at once which will make it difficult to complete in the time allowed. Although I understand the need to generate income I profoundly disagree with this particular initiative. It appears that those on a low income will be disadvantaged, plus those, like us, who enjoy the courses purely for the love of learning and have no use or need for a certificate. The brilliant thing about Futurelearn has been the relaxed pace, the knowledge that the material would always be there when I was ready to access it – unfortunately all gone now. I would far prefer to pay a nominal sum for each course and retain on-going access to the material.

      • Reema Mehta

        Hi Jennifer and Linda,

        Thanks for your comments.

        As mentioned in the blog post, our business model relies on a small number of people purchasing something that they value in order to keep the courses free for everyone to access. Allowing people, wherever they are, to access high quality courses and learn with others, is something we feel very strongly about. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view – and we’ll definitely be taking your feedback on board.

        Alongside these changes, we are aiming to run our courses more frequently (at least three times a year) and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

        • Sarah Anne Siteman

          I’m one of those retired people who take free online classes just for the pleasure of learning. Since I seldom finish classes within the schedule I have a few questions.

          Will our progress be carried over to the next run of the class? Coursera does that, sometimes allowing tests, sometimes not. Then when, or if, I decide to try for a certificate, at least I can tell which steps I still have to take.

          Will we still have the option to pay for a certificate for a class that we started before March 7th? I’m working on one, out of many, that I was planning to pay for once I finish it.

  • Harrison

    I would like to suggest that in the future AND including the current PAID users, you let us have a downloadable Digital version of Certificate of Achievement and transcripts instead of just paper printed version of Certificate. Many times employers require seeing the Digital version of the Certificate. Currently, just using the shareable link to display the Futurelearn Certificate of Achievements are not sufficient. Please include the downloadable Digital Certificate in your future courses as well as for Certificates that we purchased before.

    Also, could we have a Digital Badges on completion of each week’s Module or completion of the whole course to get a Digital Course Badge? This will encourage online course users more willing to learn and another way we could improve in our Digital CV. Most important add value to your Futurelearn courses.

    Since you notify us for this upgrading deal with such a short notice, could you implement this sometimes in May 2017 so that we have more time to finish all our current courses?

    Thank you.

    • Joan Greenleaf

      I don’t think that our current courses are affected by the changes Harrison. The changes, as I understanded it, affect only courses starting on or after 6 March.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Harrison,

      Thanks very much for your suggestions, they’re definitely something we’ll consider and take on board – particularly around a downloadable digital certificate, which is something we’ve heard from other learners.

      As mentioned by Joan above, upgrading will not affect courses that started before 6 March. This means that you’ll still have unlimited access to courses you’ve joined that started before this date – without needing to upgrade – for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

  • Harrison

    It was rather sad to have noted that Futurelearn is going ahead with the upgrading deal which starts on 6 March 2017. In this world, nothing comes free and although I can understand that you need to be able to make the courses sustainable for your partners to continue to produce and host them for you. But to many people in many parts of the world paying the £24 minimum to get each certificate is very costly. Like many of them, £24 is their one week salary! Therefore, the fees charge must be affordable and reasonable. Moreover, you are going to take away the access to tests from those free Futurelearn course users, this is something not upgrading but I think is downgrading your standard. Access to tests is required for all of us regardless of whether you pay for upgrade fee or not. Because the tests will allow us to know whether we have answered it correct or not? This is very strange in an education setting you take away the tests for free course users.

    Thank you.

    • Joan Greenleaf.

      I agree entirely Harrison.

    • Joan Greenleaf

      Harrison, I agree entirely!

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Harrison,

      Thanks for your comment. We’re introducing upgrading so that we can continue to operate sustainably to allow more people, wherever they are, to access high quality courses and learn with others.

      We believe that free learners will still get a good learning experience, as the majority of the courses will still be free to access – including quizzes, assignments and peer review features.

      We are also continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can ensure learners get the best value for money from their learning. With regards to UK price points – thanks very much for your feedback on this, as it’s an area we’re actively exploring at the moment. You might have noticed that we’ve recently started to introduce other currencies. Our next steps will be to explore how our prices translate internationally as we recognise that product value and disposable income is different across the world.

  • Eden Mabee

    While I think this is a good idea for the future, those of us who signed up for (and still sometimes connect on older courses, would probably appreciate the maintained access we’ve had to our older courses without having to “upgrade” each one. Especially since sometimes it’s hard to keep up with a class when it’s available… so we go back to it piecemeal as our schedules allow, as true “life learners”.

    Is there, perchance, a “life learner” membership option in the works that would allow us to keep our classes (and info) intact without upgrading each individual course?

    • Gordon Dyne

      According to the press release access to courses started BEFORE “the changeover date will be uneffected – for as long as they continue to run the course on the Future Learn platform. So the restriction only effects a course you started AFTER 6th March.

      • Joan Greenleaf.

        Eden yes a Life Learner or annual subscription would be an excellentt idea. Sometimes one just wants to go back and check something and doesn’t want to pay £40, for that.
        Gordon, yes there will be free access to courses started before the changeover but many of us are worried about courses we have in the pipe-line.

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Eden,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Upgrading won’t affect courses that started before 6 March. You’ll still have unlimited access to courses you’ve joined that started before this date – without needing to upgrade – for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

      Thanks for your suggestion about a ‘life learner’ membership – it’s definitely something we’ll take on. We are already exploring the idea of a membership or subscription option, alongside the existing pay-as-you-go model, so this may be an alternative we offer in future.

  • Gordon Dyne

    From a personnel point of view I can`t see that either the loss of the tests (which were pretty basic anyway) or the 14 day cut off is sufficient reason to fork out £24 and very likely more.

    Difficult in seeing how this will significantly improve FL revenue streams.

    I have to say the funding of MOOC`s always seemed a bit of a mystery and previously I have done online courses that were priced at £120 (but much longer and meatier than any FL course – in fact ex Online Degree modules), I also did Workers Education Courses (with tutors at venues) and again paid for them.

    The switch to MOOC`s was driven more by the range and variety of courses on offer than the free charge. I personally would be prepared to pay some sort of participation charge – although it has to be said that unless it were fairly nominal I would also become more selective.

    Have to say that the Coursera MOOC`s appear to have become very quiet places.

    • Daniel Rhodes

      FL has got popular because the courses are high in quality (ie. university level) and free of charge.

      Coursera courses are also high in quality but the cost is creeping up. And then there’s Udemy where the quality and the cost can both be quite low.

      I feel like a lot of Udemy and Coursera folks have migrated over to FL…

    • Reema Mehta

      Hi Gordon,

      Thanks for your comment. As Matt and Simon have mentioned earlier in the comments, before we introduced upgrading we carried out a significant amount of research to understand what our learners value. We tested the balance between what our learners felt provided good value for money, whilst continuing to offer as much as we can for free: something we feel very strongly about. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view.

      We’re anticipating that many people will continue to take part in the courses and share them, as the majority of the courses, with the exception of the tests, will continue to be free. Alongside this, we are working hard to ensure courses run more frequently.

  • John

    How is FutureLearn ‘transforming’ education? Rather, it seems to be joining the private corporate juggernaut attaching itself to education in the pursuit of profit.

    • Hi John, we believe we are transforming education by allowing more people, wherever they are, to access high quality courses and learn with others. Of course, we need to do that sustainably, and introducing upgrading is one of the ways we are doing this.

  • Robert Stirling

    I understand why the tests have been added to the ‘upgrade’ to give it value to the casual learner, like myself, not interested in certificates. However we would need to know what tests were involved in a course (if any) before paying. To many casual learners, retired and those on a low income, the learning experience has been downgraded for justifiable economic reasons. C’est la vie.

    • Hi Robert, thanks for this. More detail on the nature of tests included in a course up front is a good idea and one that we’ll review for future improvements to upgrades.

      • ann berne

        Personally I have loved most of the courses I have taken – and more importantly, the comments by other learners. I suspect that the comments will not be as informative or as interesting – or whether people will even bother to comment from the 6 March. I am on a very restricted income and I don’t think I will bother commenting.
        As I mentioned before, it would be better to market to companies and charge them for the management courses. The ‘upgrade’ to me is meaningless and I will now have to see if upcoming courses – free – will be worthwhile. I also find it curious that I too completed a survey just two weeks ago and now this!!!
        Very sad about the changes. I don’t think they have been well thought out properly. I would love to know how you got to this decision.

        • Gordon Dyne

          Ann – they are not restricting access to the comment forums, that will continue as before whilst the course is running (and 14 days after the end).

  • Alice

    2. From my personal point of view, the limited range of time given to common users to complete a course could even enhance the general learning experience. I’ve enrolled many courses I’ve never finished, thinking “I will do it when I will have the time to do it”; but it’s really difficult to catch up when nobody’s commenting and it’s impossible to share thoughts with others. Sometimes that “time to do it” never came, too, and I never completed some courses. So this upgrading could avoid the proliferation of “ghost learners” like (in some cases) me. Knowing that course materials are available only for 4-6 weeks will led free users to join in courses which they are really interested in and which they could follow rather assidously. Paying users, I think, will be even more motivated, eager to have their just certificate!
    3. The ID verification (isn’t it a new feature, too?) could be an incentive for buying certificates which prove partecipation in MOOCs.

  • Alice

    Like others FutureLearners I’ve been very surprised by this upgrading deal.
    I would like to share some thoughts.
    1. The basic learning experiences is still granted for free. Plus, as someone said, many courses offer PDFs and videos available for free downloading, so that even when course materials are deleted for free users, the learner can rely on his/her own back-up of the materials. For example, the course about subcultures run by Keio University provided even transcripts of the whole week in one file, reducing the possible copy-and-past work from every single lesson.

  • Lukas

    Hey there, I totally understand the reasons of the changes. Although, I have some questions:
    1. How will this update of FL affect the older courses? Will I be able to look at the old content from courses, wich ended or started before the 6th of march?
    2. Is it possible to upgrade later, e.g. when I finished the course 5 weeks ago and in 6 weeks, I decide to upgrade it, is that possible? How long is this option possible? Will I be able to take the tests than?
    Thank you for your answers, and have a nice day 🙂

    • Hi Lukas. No, this update won’t affect course runs you joined before 6 March. And yes, you can upgrade any time – when you join, when it starts, or during. You can even upgrade after it has finished to regain access, take any tests and earn a certificate. You’ll be able to do this from Your Courses. This option will be available for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

  • Helen

    The other thing that is annoying is that such short notice has been given. I left a couple of courses recently and thought I would wait for the next run. But if I’d stayed registered on them, I would have been able to access them at any time.

    • Thanks Helen, we’ll take this feedback on board for future changes we make to FutureLearn.

      • David Farrelly


        I hope that you will listen to the feedback of other students on this topic. You produce some great courses with your partners organisations. The changes proposed penalise slower students and accessing course materials after a course is a key part of the learning and reflecting experience. Charging for accessing course tests and knowledge checks undermines the quality of your courses and the learning taking place.

        Finally, I see no evidence of consultation in respect to your changes.

        I am running an online petition on 38 Degrees opposing these changes. Despite leaving messages on FutureLearn blogs and message boards the only contact I have had with FutureLearn is that they have viewed my profile on LinkedIn. We need a proper dialogue as what FutureLearn is achieving, which is considerable, will be undermined by these changes.

  • Helen

    I’m sorry about the 14 day thing – it’s quite useful to be able to sign up for a course and then do it a few weeks later if there are a few running at the same time. Now I’ll have to wait for another run of the course, and then it might clash with another one. I don’t want to upgrade at the beginning of the course because I might decide I don’t actually want to complete it – I’ve started a few courses and decided they weren’t for me. Others I’ve completed, but decided I don’t need a certificate, and there are others I’ve completed and either applied for the certificate right away, or a few weeks/months later when I’ve got the cash. Someone below suggested an annual subscription. I would agree this could be worthwhile for me, please investigate this idea further. I was hoping to do the Italian and Spanish programs but this new rule has messed things up for me as some of the courses start after 6 March and I won’t be able to follow them in time, so I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next run of some of the courses I need. You don’t actually say how it affects programs where people have already done some of the courses needed.

    • Thanks Helen. You raise some great points here that we will definitely take on and consider, especially around subscription which is something we’re exploring.

      If you complete a course and decide you want to purchase a certificate later, you can. You will be able to upgrade the course once it’s finished from Your Courses, in order to complete any tests and earn a certificate.

      Upgrades are rolling out to some programs’ courses slightly later, to allow learners who are mid-way through completing a program to do so under the old model.

  • Lukas K.

    Hey there, I totally understand the need of this new system. But I got a few questions:
    1. is it possible to upgrade later? Let’s say, you’ve completed a course 5 weeks ago. And in 4 weeks you would like to have a certificate or look at the course content again. Ist it possible to upgrade this special course later? And if yes, how long would it be possible?
    2. How will this upgrade have impact on older courses? For example, what is going on with courses, you’ve completed about one year ago. Do I have to upgrade theses courses as well to have access to its content in the future? Or will only courses, started after the 6th of march will be impacted?

    Thank you for yur answers, have a nice day 🙂

  • Zoi K.M.

    What about the lessons that started before March 6, will we able to buy a certificate of achievement any time we want?

  • Graham Jones

    Just a thought. My UK public library provides open and free access to various on line subscription services such as, OED, the Naxos music library and other reference sources. Any chance that this could be extended to FL access. I accept that Libraries are under great financial restraint, but if the price was right?, or if libraries part funded in some way, buying a block licence and selling it on to its members at a reduced rate allowing access to as many courses as people choose to do it may cover costs. it may be than £10 a year from a couple of hundred thousand people plus a licence fee from libraries might give a higher income than flogging certificates at a higher price to a relatively smaller number of individuals

    • Thanks Graham, it’s a great thought and similar to our recent partnership with the British Council in which they gave away 15,000 certificates to our learners in 140 non-OECD countries. We’re hoping to repeat this partnership and find other similar ways to support those with less ability to pay for upgraded access.

  • Sue Skelton

    Welcome to the real world people. These courses cost money to produce. The platform costs money to develop and maintain. If money out is greater than money in, the result is debt. Philanthropists like the Victorians who opened libraries and museums are in short supply these days.

  • p.d.r. lindsay

    Oh rats! One of the best things about the MOOCs is that the poverty striken like me can actually access first rate learning and keep going back to the course to do extra reading, studying and just reabsorbing!
    No way to get a lottery grant? Or a philanthropist to support Future Learn?

    • Helene Petitjean

      Well the download the videos, the pdf transcripts, and copy paste the rest on Word or whatever you use. You still have to pay for the certificate so it doesn’t really change much, and you can still learn for free which is invaluable nowadays, because in some countries education is so expensive.

      • Helene Petitjean

        “Then” sorry

    • Hello P.D.R. Lindsay. We’re always interested to work with organisations who would like to help us make what we offer free to learners. We recently partnered with the British Council who gave away 15,000 certificates to our learners in 140 less-developed countries. We also work with employers and provide easy ways for them to pay on behalf of their employees. We’ll be continuing to find new ways that enables organisations to pay on behalf of others.

  • Gary

    I realize the need for money. I knew this daybwould come. I wonder if a couple of a la carte type options were considered. For example, maybe allowing people to buy acces to tests for 5£ and maybe the option fir access to course materials for a year for another 5£. People would unhappy, but those options would be better to many than shelling out 49£ or the like for a certificate.

    • We did explore this Gary, but decided that a simple package was most straightforward to understand and means that we’re not constantly asking our learners to pay throughout their learning experience.

  • Nadezhda

    The Upgrade is a great idea and could be developed further! I think we should all consider charging FL for providing them with personal data, recommending them on social networks, submitting samples of written and recorded tasks and taking part in surveys. Every single bit will help and the most successful ones of us could earn enough to buy themselves a couple of tests or an additional day or two of using the course.
    The saddest thing is that it’s just the beginning.

  • Tina Mason

    Sadly, not UPgrading but DOWNgrading the experience of those who cannot afford to pay. And cynical to try to present it as perks if you pay, rather than taking things away (relative to the current offering) if you don’t.

    Thanks to this, I’m uncertain whether I shall take any more courses post 6th March. I am in poor health and not working, and only ever did them for fun – not to impress admissions tutors, or prospective employers. As such, I cannot justify spending a minimum of £24 EACH COURSE, to get the “full” experience – including a statement or certificate I neither want nor need. I DO, however, want to test my knowledge, so that I can be sure I’ve understood, even if I don’t need to prove it to anyone else. This will be a huge loss. Due to my health, as well as sometimes taking on too much, I often fall behind. This will form a barrier to starting, if I know I’ll only have a fortnight’s grace before the door is shut. I’d rather not start at all, than risk being locked out when I’ve already completed 80%.

    Many (but not all) courses on FL’s rivals let you take tests for free, and continue to access materials indefinitely. Guess where I’ll be browsing for my MOOCs now?

    • Hi Tina, I’m sorry you feel this way. The majority of the courses will still be free to access, and we are working hard to ensure courses run more frequently. Alongside this we need to work to ensure that we can continue to operate sustainably.

      • Joan Greenleaf

        I think there are a lot of learners in Tina’s position but they are not the articulate ones likely to comment on here. I fully appreciate the need for FL to get additional funds but when I offered to send a donation, I was told it is not possible. So I have had to buy a certificate that I will throw in the bin in order to contribute and had to pay
        P&P to boot. I think this a very poorly thougt out change that will hurt the most deserving and vunerable learners. I will comment in more detail later.

  • Tiziana Angiolini

    When I discovered FL I was fascinated by this platform. You are now following other Moocs. I have done many courses online and for some I chose to buy a certificate of participation. I showcased it and liked to say what I had learnt online. Some years ago I made a presentation where I presented the wonderful world of open knowledge thanks to Moocs.
    FL,Coursera, edx and other Mooc providers have chosen to follow the rules of the market. Yes, I can understand some reasons but this new world ( some said money rules) makes me feel sad.
    I might try to upgrade but you will not give me the pleasure of learning anymore. Coursera decided to shut down its old courses platform and now I have lost access to the materials I had been studying on.
    You are going to do the same as I won’t have access to what I liked or studied unless I decide to pay.
    I can understand you need to pay for courses running for months but…. with courses which last only 2-3 weeks… this is too much.
    This is my opinion. I will write in my blog about the decline of Moocs and FL. Fewer people will pay or rather you will have fewer students willing to pay.
    Thanks for reading my post.

    • Hi Tiziana,

      Thank you for taking the time to post. I’m sorry you feel this way.

      A significant proportion of the revenue generated from courses goes to the university developing the course, so they can cover their costs and invest in new courses.

      We’re anticipating that many people will continue to take part in the courses and share them, as the majority of the courses, with the exception of the tests, will continue to be free. Alongside this, we are working hard to ensure courses more frequently.

      We are also continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can ensure learners get the best value for money from their learning.

      • Tim

        Thanks for giving an inkling on where the money goes.
        I had an interesting discussion (outside of FL) with a lecturer from Southampton who issue involved in putting together their FL courses. She said they were dirt cheap to put together, and even when made for free they generated a profit by recruiting paid students.

        As I have found courses quite variable, can I suggest a feedback system so students will not find themselves paying for poor quality courses. Generally they are OK to good, but examples I have in mind are:
        – very basic level courses, way below university level
        – courses where the content is just a sampler to tempt students to sign up for a paid course at that institutions
        – courses where the content is often one person’s pet theme, at variance with accepted academic views on the subject
        – courses where there are no mentors involved, or might I also involvement, and the summary video of the week’s discussion turns out to be from the first time the course was run
        – courses with a lack of reference material for further in depth reading or to put the course content in a wider context

  • Morgaine Dinova

    The saddist thing about all this is that they appear not to recognize (or at least refuse to acknowledge) that they are shooting themselves in the foot with the 14-day cutoff.

    It’s not even an “upgrade” for paying students, since the courses will lack the very helpful contributions from large numbers of well-informed but non-paying people. The educational quality of an FL course will unavoidably drop even for those who pay.

    It’s so blinkered.

  • Ken.evans

    Why don’t you for example charge an annual fee that allows learners to take all the courses they want too or ask the learners , of which there are many to buy shares in the business to refund it and then they would have free access to courses . Many businesses are free such as Facebook but are still very profitable through advertising etc . I think a lot more thought should have gone into this before you upset what in my mind is a winning formula!!!

    • Hi Ken,
      We are exploring the idea of a subscription, alongside the existing pay-as-you-go model, so this may be an alternative we offer in future. We have decided against the Facebook-style advertising model where our learners essentially pay in a different way through providing their data and introducing advertising as this felt more unpalatable to our learners (and to our university partners) than a more straightforward approach, where we charge for added extras alongside the free course.

      • Ken Evans

        I appreciate your response . Thankyou

  • Ken.evans

    I am upset that do little notice was given for what for me and the majority of learners will see as a massive body – blow to future- learn. Also I saw future- learn as an inclusive and participative enterprise and would have expected more notice and consultation on your part .., very upset and has a retiree who has no need of a certificate to
    Prove how well I have done but with no tests cannot see how ”free learning ‘ can be viable if you cannot test yourself. Perhaps if you had consulted your customers they may have been able to make more palatable suggestions that did not impinge on the very reason for future- learn- free learning for all and an advertisement for the universities involved – a poor show in my view !!!

    • Tina Mason

      I was surveyed less than a week ago about how I use FL, my motivations for learning, and, crucially, whether I stick to suggested course schedules, or finish earlier…or later!

      Now this survey *may* have been complete coincidence, and not a factor at all, but just days later it’s announced access to courses for non-paying students will end a fortnight after their scheduled completion date (from when the student starts).

      Maybe I’m putting two and two together and getting 17, but they only survey last week about adherence to schedules, and now this?

      IF the survey fed into the decision at all, it seems clear it must all have been very rushed and desperate, as (unless I was the only respondent) it didn’t allow sufficient time to analyse all the evidence, and formulate a response.

      I replied that whilst I try to comply with the schedules, I DON’T always succeed, and also made clear I don’t use the platform to further career or academic goals, but am a disabled, non-working person, who likes to learn for its own sake.

      That means I’m doubly hit by hard cut-off dates and charges for “pointless” certificates. I can’t afford £24 just for bragging rights on LinkedIn.

      • Lynn Houghton

        You were not the only respondent Tina. My circumstances are identical to yours and I agree with all point you raised. I also feel for those in countries with restricted access to education who will be entirely unable to pay the fees.

      • Hi Tina, we’re also working on ways to make courses more flexible and provide a better experience to learners, whenever they start. The survey you completed (thank you!) was probably related to this. We’re continually talking to our learners to discover how we can make FutureLearn better meet their needs, whilst also ensuring our sustainability as a business.

      • ann berne

        I too cannot afford the £24 and mourn the loss of the current Future Learn. Due to many commitments I too don’t always finish on time although I do try to get ahead when I can. I too answered the survey and think this is a rushed decision. As I stated before, perhaps there should be a charge – for example, for management courses. I am very very unhappy with the changes.

        • Mary Hill

          I so much agree with all the above correspondents. I feel FL is no longer interested in older retired people on low incomes who just love to learn – even the upcoming courses are entirely aimed at students and people in work needing more qualifications or accreditation, apart from repeats of the many courses I have already taken part in at least once over the last two years. I understand the need to make money but do not think the impact of this on people who cannot easily commit to finishing a course within a specific short time limit and are living on benefits has been thought out. This scheme seems to say, if you can’t work fast and adjust your life to our timetable, you will be penalised financially. The joy of FL has been to work at our own pace, in our own way – and what lovely conversations I’ve had over the years with other slow learners tagging along behind well after the course supposedly finished! Some may only ever want to take part in one or two courses relevant to their careers – others of us would love to continue taking recreational courses month after month, year after year – surely there is some way we could contribute financially that would not be so punitive?

  • Wanda

    Sad news for me as well. Life is life, money rules the world

  • Eleanor Walker

    Yeah, no. Deeply unimpressed with this idea. Restricting tests to only those who can afford to pay to do them is the antithesis of what FutureLearn is all about. How are people on low incomes meant to then use the course to help get themselves a better job? I can understand restricting access to the material once the course has finished, but I will not be taking any more courses after this deeply disappointing, exploitative and money grabbing change comes into effect, nor will I be recommending FutureLearn to any more of my friends. Heck, even if you just opened a donate button or operated on a Pay as You Feel model, I am sure that most people would then contribute something in proportion to what they feel they can afford, rather than just not buying anything because the certificates on offer are too expensive and useless to them.

    • Hi Eleanor,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you feel this way. As I replied to Jolanda below, a significant proportion of the revenue generated from courses goes to the university developing the course, so they can cover their costs and invest in new courses.

      We’re anticipating that many people will continue to take part in the courses and share them, as the majority of the courses, with the exception of the tests, will continue to be free. Alongside this, we are working hard to ensure courses run more frequently.

      We are also continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can ensure learners get the best value for money from their learning.

      • Eleanor Walker

        At the very least, you should be able to buy a Statement of Participation without upgrading, since passing the tests are currently not a prerequisite for them, only for the Certificates.

  • Ann Berne

    Like Jolanda I am disappointed about the ‘upgrade’ – it isn’t an upgrade, but an extra charge. I take the courses to stimulate my mind and to interact with other people. I also usually take tests after the course is finished so that I can look at the videos a second time and read the articles and links! I understand the need to charge, but sadly it will be unaffordable for many, especially those who are retired and on low incomes. It will deter lots of people from studying with Futurelearn.
    I really don’t think the ‘upgrade’ is worth the extra money – it will be interesting to see how many take up the offer.
    Perhaps you should make a charge for those taking the business courses, or get a subsidy or sponsored link from companies.

    • Hi Ann, thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry you feel this way. We are continuing to explore ways we can provide FutureLearn courses affordably, whilst also ensuring we can do so sustainably.

  • Jolanda Grof

    How very disappointing FL team!
    It is disingenuous to call this action an “upgrade ” – it is a cynical and mercenary tactic.
    It is designed to manoeuvre people who are trying to improve the quality of their lives through on line education into paying inflated sums of money for bits of paper.
    £69 for enhanced access and a certificate that can be ink-jet printed for pennies?!
    The very people who need access to education in the most economically viable way will be deterred if not wholly excluded.
    Also,I don’t for one minute believe that the academics who construct these courses will receive upgraded remuneration.
    I foresee that this will mark the decline of FL to a point where it is no longer a relevant learning forum/mechanism. Please see and realise the fundamental error you are making.
    There should be a significant element of altruism involved in any educational enterprise.

    • Hi Jolanda,

      Thanks for your comment. We need to be able to make the courses sustainable in order for our partners to continue to produce and host them for us. A significant proportion of the revenue generated from courses goes to the university developing the course, so they can cover their costs and invest in new courses.

      We’re anticipating that many people will continue to take part in the courses and share them as the majority of the courses, with the exception of the tests, will continue to be free. Alongside this, we are working hard to ensure courses run more frequently.

      • Randell Suah

        Hi, please help me the courses required for this study.

  • Graham Jones

    End of an era, and the end of what was a great concept. Does the restrictions to access apply to the quizzes as well. Stopping free learners doing these seems simply petty, because as my present course’s test states “Quizzes do not count towards your course score, they are just to help you learn” Are we to be denied access to such tests which are a learning tool, and what about peer assessment as used on some courses – (the American South is one example, and the OU’s course Fiction Writing is another) Without these peer input, these courses become more or less valueless. Lack of peer assessment hurts those who pay as well since the assessment will come from just a small select like-minded, rich, cohort, probably from developed economies. I thought FutureLearn was too good to be true. It evidently was.
    And please do not treat us like complete idiots. Calling this an Upgrade fools no one

    • Gary

      As someone who resides in the American South, I can assure you the course is useless with or without peer assessment.

      • Hi Graham and Gary,

        Thanks for your comments. I’ve only visited the American South briefly so I shan’t comment on that front. But I wanted to clarify that the peer review feature is still available in courses for free.

      • Graham Jones

        Peer assessment, and peer interaction. I agree that “The South” course was a bit of a curate’s egg, but one of its strengths was the interaction, sometimes contentious interaction between the students in the comments reviews. (I had a very amicable discussion with a gent called Richard from NC about the configuration of CSA regimental flags in the Western theatre). If this sort of interaction ends, then much of the value of the course goes. I suggest that a great deal of interaction will go after charging is introduced. I singled out the two courses because they both contained assignments assessed by fellow students. – a task impossible to undertake by the course administrators. Equally on the critical thinking course I am doing now, we were actively encouraged to comment and answer other students queries because mentor involvement was going to be minimal. Are the free (that is second class) students likely to contribute so freely to a course in which they are discriminated against (no echo of the South course intended!)

  • KC Chan

    Everything costs money! So I never expect the courses to be free forever, however, I wish Futurelearn with invite more prestigious universities to provide postgraduate programs (postgraduate certificate or diploma would be good enough) so that the time and money spent could result in more recognized qualifications, thanks!

    • Hi KC, thanks for your comment.

      We’re very busy working on exactly what you suggest here. In fact, last week we launched our first full degrees that you can study through FutureLearn. You can find out more here:

  • Margaret Gibson

    Hello Matt
    In the face of such hostility towards you and the FutureLearn team regarding the email I have just received today highlighting the new changes that give the OPTION to upgrade, may I say that I have no objection to making a ‘donation’ to FutureLearn, by upgrading any course I may begin in March.
    I have been with FutureLearn since the very beginning and have completed many courses, I love to learn and have always be delighted with the courses I have done and am always amazed that these are still free at source.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Hello Margaret, thanks very much for your nice comment. Brilliant to hear that you’ve been with us since the beginning, I hope you’ll continue to learn with us for many years to come.

    • Carolyn Page

      How come you had an email a week ago? I have only received one today. I had an hour on the PC at the library last Friday which gave me time to check emails but not to do any studying. There was nothing from Futurelearn except a welcome to the last week of the course I am intending to start when I have access to a friends PC (which happens to be this evening)

  • Ndumiso Ncube

    I’m enrolled on several courses, but I’m afraid won’t finish them on time due to the time scale. If I pay for one of my certificates will you keep me log in to finish at my own pace

    • Hi Ndumiso, thank you for your comment.

      At present, upgrading is done per-course, that is, upgrading on a course will extend your access on that course alone.

      Alongside these changes, we are aiming to run our courses more frequently and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

  • Olga Bukhtiyarova

    I am amaz-ed. How about people from not-so-wealthy-like-the-UK countries with a thirst for knowledge? £69 is a lot of money for me, it’s my weekly salary! I just cannot afford to pay for all the courses that I was willing to take.

    • Hi Olga,

      Thanks for your comment. With regards to international price points, you might have noticed that we’ve recently started to introduce other currencies. Our next steps will be to explore how our prices translate internationally as we recognise that product value and disposable income is different across the world. This is an area that we are actively exploring at the moment.

      • Lynn Houghton

        It may have been a good idea to do the research before effectively cutting off many students like Olga.

        • Lynn Houghton

          Is there a date when this will happen or will it be something that fails to materialise when those affected are no longer around?

      • Carolyn Page

        Without the participation from people from all walks of life and all countries the courses value of the comments will be significantly reduced.

        You can’t means test all the people who wish to study and to attempt to do so would be discriminatory.

        It is also likeley that those who come from poorer countries where internet and connections are limited will not be able to complete within the normal timescales that you intend to provide for free. This is effectively disenfranchising them. And these are the very people for whom access to the level of courses on offer can help most to achieve their ambitions.

  • Gillian Seager

    I agree with those people who say that you might join a course and then like me have trouble with your computer. Last year after I got it repaired we went away for a week and I had to work on the 2 courses I was doing after they finished. If I decided I did not want to pay for a certificate I would lose the last weeks or have to pay for the certificates. Why not have a small charge for all the courses so that people did not have to pay £69. I can appreciate that the courses have become so popular, however it seems very disappointing that people who cannot afford or do not require a certificate will be penalised.
    I would like to say thank you to all people who have compiled these courses and to Future Learn. who have produced them.

    • Hi Gillian, thanks for your comment.

      As someone who works hard on the FutureLearn team to bring courses to you, I’d like to thank you for learning with us!

      We understand that life gets in the way sometimes. Alongside these changes, we are aiming to run our courses more frequently and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

      Best wishes,


  • Morgaine Dinova

    Well I have three questions for the Chief Product Officer, which hopefully he will consider carefully before FL falls into obscurity on 6th March owing to this ill-considered business plan:

    1) Do you expect non-paying FL students to continue working hard to help others on your courses, when in 14 days’ time you are going to make the content (including their own posts!!!!) no longer accessible to them?

    2) Do you not value the contributions of non-paying students to the quality of education received by other students on your courses? Those contributions will inevitably dry up and reduce in quality, leaving a biased landscape of posts written mainly by those with money to pay. Is that the kind of FL that your business plan was intended to create?

    3) Do you expect non-paying FL students to promote FutureLearn to their friends and acquaintances as an awesome Internet MOOC resource, when enrolling no longer provides materials that can be revisited in the future when people require them? It would encourage friends and acquaintances not into education, but into a business dependency — not something you do to friends.

    As an ex-educator, I am appalled.

    • Hello Morgaine,

      Thanks for your comments. We’re anticipating that many people will continue to take part in the courses and share them as the majority of the courses, with the exception of the tests, will be available for free. Continuing to host a vibrant conversation with perspectives from all over the world is very important to us.

      However, we need to be able to make the courses sustainable in order for our partners to continue to produce and host them for us, whilst keeping as much free to access as we can.

      • Morgaine Dinova

        The 14-day cutoff is not a compelling offer, it’s a reason for non-paying students to stay well away from FL instead of contributing to your platform’s educational value.

        You could have achieved everything in the plan without the cutoff at all. The consequences of the cutoff are entirely and massively negative for FutureLearn, in every single respect imaginable.

        I notice that you did not answer a single question of the 3 that I raised above, which detail the educational negatives.

        • Carolyn Page

          I agee with you Morgaine. Matt has ignored your comments and spat out the policy line.

          I have not been able to join this discussion before as I only was informed of their decision by email today and that was the first I had heard of it. I can see others, like yourself have been posting for over a week.

          I have signed up for many courses since January 2014 and completed 13 of them (though few within the timescale, due to internet access limitations) and intend to complete the rest when I can. Having learnt a lot from the courses, am not against paying something towards their continuation, but have never paid anything for 2 reasons:
          1) I do not pay for anything on-line (and there seems to be no alternative way of paying)

          2) I do not consider the certificates to have any value when all you have to do to is to go through and tick the “Mark as complete” to complete a course.

          I don’t think I would have ever given Futurelearn a try, if it had not been free. As it was, I was almost put off by having to “Register” and have yet another password to remember.

          not having time to r,

          • Carolyn Page

            I also think the courses will be reduced because:
            – due to the time restriction people doing the couses for free may not have the time to read and reply to comments, which when they do adds so much value to the study
            – due to the cost, those who cannot afford it or cannot pay for it on-line will be restricted and many of those people will the very ones who do not meet the course timeframes because they cannot afford or do not have their own internet connection or any connection they do have is unreliable or frequently unavailable
            – to charge or restrict discriminates as access will then be restricted to those who have and disenfranchises those who have not. Not all paricipants live in the decedant society of the UK and without their comments from other countries and strata of society, the disenfranchised voices will not be heard and the other participants will be all the poorer for that.

  • Dawn Hayhurst

    I am very disappointed to hear this news. I have completed numerous courses which have been excellent. Unfortunately for myself, the new system will probably mean that I will not be able to participate in the future as due to ill health I need the flexibility of being able to stop and start again as my situation allows. As regards cost, that will also preclude me. I have always felt that the cost of the certificates of achievement were too expensive and that is why I never bothered to get them. If they had been set at a reasonable price I would probably have bought one for all the courses I have done.

    • Hi Dawn, thanks for your comment.

      We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

      But producing high quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. The UK’s Open University made an initial investment to get us up and running, but we’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible.

      Alongside these changes we’re also aiming to run our courses at least three times a year and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

      We are also continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can improve on this to make sure learners are getting the best value for money from their learning.

      • Dawn Hayhurst

        Hi Simon, I note your comments regarding cost of courses but without facts and figures I’m not in a position to know to what extent this is an acceptable excuse. Also, I can’t believe that Future Learn really thinks that it would be either enjoyable or acceptable to have to complete a course by having to keep joining up again over the course of a year or more.

        • Carolyn Page

          From the email I received today, the bulletin & responses I’ve seen so far, I’ve not yet been able to tell what access there will be on a contiuing basis to previous comments made and the people I have been following.

          Like you, I expect to be procluded, not because of ill health but because of lack of regular internet access. My main access being at a library when in my home county. A maximum 2 x1 hour sessions with a gap inbetween when open. But terminals are often not available (guess what, you can book in advance on-line), or at friends when I go visiting. Gnerally that is to spend time with them rather than use their PC. Tonight, for example, the friend I am visiting has gone out for a meeting.

          Using the libraray where printing is 25p a page means I am reliant on being able to go back through courses rather than make and print out notes.

          If the comments are not carried foward from one run of a course to the next then it will be hard to go back to continue an earlier conversation. If all comments are carried forward from one run to another there will be too many comments to go through on the later runs. That seems to be a tricky problem to manage.

          • Carolyn Page

            I have also built up quite a number of people I follow and know that when they crop up on another course their comments are usually worth picking up on. And although I have joined several facebook groups with others from different courses and still communicate with them through that, I have not made the individuals as facebook friends or exchanged email addresses with most of the people I am following. So many of the contacts I have made and would like to be able to recontact when they or I have done something, like see how they have done when they’ve completed doing something they were in the middle of before, e.g. making a film or studying another course. Another example was that I as going to two people in Mauritius know when I had made a documentary from footage I took there over 10 years ago, and wanted to hear how one of them was getting on with her research into recycling. The value of the corses is greater than the materials alone. It would be a chame o be disenfranchised from so many.

  • Jane

    Sad, but not unexpected. Nothing’s really free. I’m retired have no need of certificates, any chance of a reduced rate? I think the tests are an important part of the course, it would be a shame not to have access to them. I also think 14 days after the duration of the course is too short.

    • Morgaine Dinova

      Jane, you’re right that nothing is really free, but that cuts both ways.

      We have been “paying” FL through contributing hours and days of hard effort at writing well informed and educational posts in answer to technical questions, hence raising the quality of the platform and improving the quality of the education received by others.

      We have also been “paying” by promoting FL to all our friends and acquaintances, in the absence of which FL would have to spend an enormous amount of money in advertising, on a continual basis.

      These are contributions in kind to the success of FL, and they are not actually free at all, yet this new business plan dismisses them totally as having no value to the bottom line. Well somebody is in for quite a shock when they cease on 6th March.

      All in all, what is being advertised as an “upgrade” is actually a very severe downgrade of FutureLearn, for non-paying and paying students alike. It’s so bad that I can’t really conceive how it managed to pass business analysis.

      • Carolyn Page

        Yes, I too have promoted Futurelearn in my home country and abroad. And there have been many other people enriched. I do not see it as an enhancement or upgrade either.

        On the course
        Innovation: The Key to Business Success University of Leeds
        There was considerable material from commercial companies, which I hope helped pay for the materials to be produced, and through the comments made, I hope those companies were well rewarded by the ideas in the comments that were fed back from the participants.

        In other courses, I think the universities were looking to entice full time students and in others the motivation was to see what hidden talents are hiding away, the knowledgeable amateurs, for example in the marketing or film industry. It’s not that difficult for tutors to identify out a few gems from the couple of thousand on a course and that may be a far better way to find a new employee than using a recruitment agency or advert.

        In PROMPT / PRINCE (Principles of Project Management) three aspects need to be kept in ballance Technical, Financial, Users. It seems this initiative is being driven by the Financial to the detrement of the other two.

  • Kadir

    Well, I guess step by step this wonderful free online learning site is going to provide only paid-courses in the future.I can see that coming!
    I do hope you keep your motto you which is giving as many people as you can the benefits of great learning.

    • Hi Kadir, thanks for your comment.

      We’re not moving to paid-courses by introducing upgrading. If you choose not to upgrade you can still access the majority of the course for free.

      We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

      But producing high quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. We’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible.

  • Ellen Orange

    Does this mean you have to make a decision at the point of being on the course? So if you take a free course, it then disappears and you can’t decide to buy a certificate later on? I would like an option to be able to buy certificates later on in case I need to prove what I’ve done.

    • Hi Ellen – you can upgrade whenever you want to – at the start or anytime afterwards

      • Mary Lou Ni Maire

        Matt- I believe you may be wrong on this. You need to take the tests to get the certificate and you can’t take the tests without upgrading. I dislike the decision to remove the Tests for the ‘free’ learners because it reduces the likelihood of an upgrade. I had been contemplating buying the certificates for the Spanish courses I have taken. But I doubt I will now, as this feels more like extortion.

  • Andrew

    A former OU Student, I have been studying with Futurelearn since it launched. I was expecting this change, as Coursera and others have gone a similar way, but I am deeply disappointed by it. I have no need of certificates, being retired as just interested in life long learning, but tests are an integral way of ensuring you learn rather than read.Students that can get sponsorship, those in work with support from their employers, professionals who see ongoing training as a work expense, etc have the flexibility and resources to fund courses and it is reasonable that they should contribute as they would with the OU. The retired, the unemployed and others with constrained incomes will be discouraged but this change and many of those add real value to the discussion from their experience or circumstances. One course might be affordable but I have studied dozens. A business model that promotes study for qualifications, and allows course credits etc, would provide a means to charge those that most benefit (and are likely to be supported) leaving access to courses and tests free for those not in need of any result other than the benefit of learning. I hope you review this decision.

    • Hamish

      I’ve also been here since the start and have completed numerous courses. When they made a similar change at coursera, I stopped taking their courses too. I really don’t like the feeling that some are more privileged to get the full benefits of these courses because they are richer.
      As Andrew has said, I also feel bitterly disappointed by this decision. As happened with coursera, I feel this decision is going to drive many of us serious MOOCers away. And, as at coursera, the forums, and therefore the courses, will suffer badly for this.

    • Carolyn Littlejohn

      I agree with you. I have courses that I started last may and have only just finished them due to health problems I do not think the new system would have allowed me to return to them after so long.

      • Hi Andrew, Hamish and Carolyn,

        Thanks for your comments. I’m on the FutureLearn team and I’m incidentally also a current part-time OU student. As Matt mentioned elsewhere on this thread, Before we introduced upgrading we carried a significant amount of research to understand what aspects of what we offer our learners value and tested the balance between what our learners felt provided good value for money. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners and we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view. Introducing upgrades is one of many initiatives we’re undertaking to ensure we can continue to offer as much as we can afford to for free: something we feel very strongly about.

  • Victoria

    Dear Mr.Walton,
    First of all thank you and all the team of the FutureLearn for creating this special and exciting opportunity to study and get access to the courses of best universities of the world for ordinary people. I completed one of your courses, and it s really great. It gives lot of confidence after a long break in studies.I will definitely do more. But as due to my circumstances I joined few courses on FutureLearn before but haven’t completed by now I have a question- will the contents of the courses created previously be available for access after 14 days of their completion or the Upgrade pertains to all the courses, including those started in 2016?

    Hope for your kind reply.
    Thank you in advance.


    • Dear Victoria,
      All courses running prior to 6 March will be available to you for as long as they are on FutureLearn. Courses running after 6 March will be available for the duration of the course + 14 days from when you begin the course (not when the course starts).

      • Carolyn Page

        You say “All courses running prior to 6 March will be available to you for as long as they are on FutureLearn” what do you mean “as long as they are on FutureLearn”? Have you the intention of removing some of them? Are you already sheduling their removal? Will it come without prior warning like today’s bombshell?

  • George

    I’ve enrolled on several courses, noting that I won’t finish them in time because I’m busy (and they run at the same time). Will I have permanent access to the courses that have already started, or will the 14 day limit apply?

    • Hi George, you’ll get access for the duration of the course + 14 days from the day YOU begin, not from when the course does. Glad to hear that you’re finding lots to interest you – good luck!

      • George

        What counts as me beginning? Because I’ve clicked enroll and I’m getting notifications, but I haven’t actually done anything yet.

        • Reema Mehta

          Hi George,

          For courses you’ve enrolled on that start before 6 March – you’ll have unlimited access to them (for as long as they exist on FutureLearn), without needing to upgrade.

          For courses you’ve enrolled on that start on or after 6 March – you’ll have access to them for the duration of the course + 14 days, regardless of when you joined. So if you’ve enrolled before the course starts, you’ll get access for the duration of the course + 14 days from the course start date (ie from the first day you have access to the course material).

          Hope this clears things up!

  • David Farrelly

    I have completed numerous Futurelearn courses and I have enjoyed them all.

    The charges for accessing course tests etc will I believe will be counterproductive and will deter people from registering and completing your excellent courses. I for one will find the course much less useful without having access to tests and knowledge checks. There are other course providers both nationally and internationally and I feel I may move on to access these courses.

    Whilst accepting that you are a business. I am frustrated that you currently seek to charge a relatively large amount for certificates for students who complete your courses. For me these certificates offer me very little added value so I do not therefore purchase them. The price of £24-£69 is not realistic going forward for people on fixed or with limited incomes.

    I am able to offer some alternative suggestions on raising income should you be interested; I suspect however that you have made your decision as it is clearly in process of being implemented.

    I am really disappointed that something I and many others have valued is now proposing to restrict access to their learning materials and tests. What a shame!

    • Kadir

      I totally agree with you David! The price for certificates are unreasonable, anyway.I cannot afford to buy any certificates, anyway due to currency.They do not think about the people who live outside of the U.K., though.
      And like you said they’ve already made up their mind about this rubbish upgrading process, anyway.So, what’s the point of asking our suggestions ???

      • Abigail

        Both David and Kadir, I agree with you about the ridiculousness of this simulacrum of concern for users opinions.
        It is evident that FutureLearn cares less about the user opinion (the deed has been done; the changes have been enacted already) and far more about profit.

        I will comment separately about why that is the case.

        Suffice to say here, FutureLearn ‘s ‘new’ and ‘upgrade’ steps are in fact retrograde. In line with governmental teachings, no doubt.

        • Hi David, Abigail and Kadir,
          To respond to some of your comments, before we introduced upgrading we carried out a significant amount of research to understand what our learners value. We tested the balance between what our learners felt provided good value for money, whilst continuing to offer as much as we can for free: something we feel very strongly about. We’ve explored a number of alternative models with our learners but we always welcome hearing more ideas and points of view.

          With regards to UK price points, you might have noticed that we’ve recently started to introduce other currencies. Our next steps will be to explore how our prices translate internationally as we recognise that product value and disposable income is different across the world. This is an area that we are actively exploring at the moment.

          Thanks for your comments,


          • Gary C

            A little bit more notice would have been nice. On the positive side, I have a MOOC addiction and this policy will help me break it.

          • Morgaine Dinova

            Dear Matt,

            The “significant amount of research” that was done clearly did not cover the platform costs saved by adding a 14-day cutoff. As a long-standing computing professional, I can tell you that figure for free: zero.

            It is zero because the account state information for recording a past student’s progress point is so tiny that in the context of today’s disk storage sizes and costs, it is absolutely indistinguishable from zero, by orders of magnitude. On top of that, implementing a 14-day cutoff has itself added processing costs, entirely through your own doing. And finally, the positive contributions to your platform made by non-paying students are so vast in comparison to the effectively-zero storage cost that making them leave is just business suicide.

            Business-wise, this is not a rational move, and educationally it makes the platform a great deal worse than before, for all students, both paying and not.

            For FL’s sake, I hope that ego doesn’t prevent this ill-considered business plan from being nipped in the bud before 6th March. It would be sad to scratch FL from the list of educational gems worth promoting to students and to educators.

          • David Farrelly


            Thank you for your response.

            It seems that you have made a real rod for your own backs judging by the comments and feedback here. Whilst I do hear what you say about exploring other models, I am frankly dubious about the quality of consultation, it’s scale, representativeness, and validity. I base that comment on the size and nature of the feedback left here.

            On a positive note I believe that the criticism comes because people who use and complete your courses care about them. They are of a high quality and those who present and contribute to them are clearly knowledgable and highly motivated in what they due and deliver to us students.

            I am bitterly disappointed about this development. Could you please provide me with the contact details of the senior person in Futurelearn so I can contact the them directly please? I feel so strongly about this I may start an online petition.

          • Carolyn Page

            I think you will be loosing a lot of “customers” and that they will be looking for another “free” provider. If you are looking as this as an oportunity to float the “company” on the stock market, then I think you should think again as past performance will ot guarantee future performance.

  • Elgar Olofindayo

    Sir/Madam, I could not finish the course (why we age) due to some other serious engagement. I finished up to 3rd week. Can I get a certificate of participation. Thanks for giving us such opportunities. EO

    • Hi Elgar, as long as you’ve finished 50% of the steps in the course, you’ll be able to buy Statements of Participation on courses that started before 6 March.

  • Carolyn Littlejohn

    Last May I had to have treatment for breast cancer, I had a few courses that I had started or was due to start but because of treatment and ‘mind set’ I did not get back to study until recently, I have now caught up .With the new way it looks like I would not be able to have done this. If I signed up for a course starting in march would I be able to save it to do when I went on holiday, say in June?

    • Hi Carolyn,
      If you join a course for free after March 6, you’ll have access for the duration of the course plus 14 days, regardless of when you join. So, for example, when you join a 4-week course, you will be able to access it for 4 weeks (the duration of the course) + 14 days.

      However, we are aiming to run our courses more frequently, so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

  • Viktoria

    What about the material of the courses I completed prior to March 6? Will it remain accessible as it’s been (please!)? Thank you!

    • Hi Viktoria, all courses you’ve completed before March 6 will remain available to you. Only courses running from next week will be under the new model.

      • Viktoria

        Dear Matt,

        Thanks so much!! At least that’s a relief!).. Oh, I apologize: Am I right to understand from your another answer that I’ll be able to normally complete the courses I’m currently in the middle of – that started prior to Mar 6 but are stated to finish well after it – and have the permanent access? Even those promising a free certificate? So no need to rush to cram several weeks’ work by March 6?)
        – Thanks in advance!

        Yours truly

        • Reema Mehta

          Hi Viktoria,

          Yes that’s correct – for any course you’ve joined that started before 6 March, you’ll continue to have unlimited access to it (for as long as it exists on FutureLearn). This includes courses offering a free certificate. So no need to rush!

          • Viktoria

            Thank youuu!!! 🙂

  • Susan Wainwright

    So what it boils down too is that you are penalising people who can’t afford to buy the certificates by removing the testing element. Does this not render Futurelearn obselete as learners can find anything out by searching themselves anyway. I have passed a few courses but cannot afford the certificates. I’m hoping that when i can afford them the option to buy will still be there. This option is about to be removed for me. I think even a £10 reduction in the price of a certificate would make a massive difference.

    • Hi Susan, thanks for your comment. We don’t feel we are taking away access to courses by introducing upgrading. If you choose not to upgrade you can still access the majority of the course for free.

      We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

      But producing high quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. The UK’s Open University made an initial investment to get us up and running, but we’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible.

      We are continuing to look at the affordability of upgrades and how we can improve on this to make sure learners are getting the best value for money from their learning.

      • Morgaine Dinova

        Simon Pearson writes:

        > “We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning.”

        By making non-paying people leave the platform? A curious plan.

        Seriously, this is an educational platform with a lot of bright people on it. You cannot write illogical marketroid sentences and expect to get away with it.

        The “great learning” that was aided by many high-quality contributions from non-paying students is about to stop on 6th March. Apparently nobody carried out a cost/benefit analysis of the consequences of making non-paying students leave.

  • Brian Steele

    That’s a shame. I appreciate that the system needs funding, but course duration + 14 days is unworkable for me to complete a course, so that’s me out and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • Hamish Morrison

      I agree with you. Many of the courses I’ve completed have been over the 14 days extra we are now being given. If it’s anything like what happened at coursera after they started a similar policy, many more will be heading for the door with you.

      • Hi Brian and Hamish,

        Alongside these changes we’re also aiming to run our courses at least three times a year and so there will normally be the opportunity to join the next run of the course for free and learn with the next group of learners.

      • Morgaine Dinova

        Yes Hamish, it’s a very silly move on all fronts, particularly when it makes no cost sense to impose a time cutoff. Indeed, it carries a processing burden itself so it’s entirely a negative change for the platform, as I explained to Matt after his reply to Abigail above.

        It’s very much a Dilbert moment for FL. Unfortunately comedy can’t make up for my sadness at seeing a good educational resource being killed off.

        • Hamish Morrison

          Morgaine, I agree with you about the cut off. I still have people commenting and asking me questions on a course that ran last October. I put a lot of effort into helping on the course as I knew the comments would stay there for everyone to read, for what I thought would be forever. With this new policy I not longer have that incentive to help.