Introducing upgrading on FutureLearn courses

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

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:

FreeUpgraded
✓ 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.

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

Category FutureLearn news, Making FutureLearn, Using FutureLearn

Comments (351)

  • 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 this..it 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…