The World’s Largest Classroom – 50 000 students worldwide


The University of London International Programmes is the world’s oldest provider of academic awards through distance and flexible learning. Its tradition of open access and innovation extends back to 1858, when the University of London was awarded a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria. The awarding of this charter extended access to degrees to those who could not come to London to study, and shortly afterwards Charles Dickens described the University of London as ‘The People’s University’ in recognition of its achievements in widening access to education.

Today, students of the University of London International Programmes study from a suite of 100+ academic programmes, with some taking the award through self-study or through support from local teaching institutions, or through additional support.

Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) of the University of London, said: ‘The University of London is committed to providing quality higher education for anyone that would benefit. Through the University’s distance and flexible learning programmes, we have contributed to many areas of life by producing successful engineers, politicians, architects, writers, environmentalists and active participants in public health.’

She added: ‘The University is proud of its tradition of access, which dates back to our 1858 Royal Charter that opened up its degrees to the world, and was also the first university in the UK to open up its degrees to women.’

The University of London International Programmes has continued to innovate since 1858, as a world leader, in the way it delivers distance and flexible learning. Today, despite rapidly changing education and IT sectors, the University of London continues with its tradition of innovation through its MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). In doing so, it has ensured that millions of learners across the globe have access to higher education that is truly life-changing.

MOOCs are courses that can be taken over the internet by anyone who subscribes to them. Hosted on the Coursera online platform, the University of London’s MOOCs have, to date, attracted over one million enrolments worldwide.

MOOC courses are developed by academics and staff at the University of London International Programmes and its member institutions, including the LSE, UCL, King’s College London, the London Business School and SOAS. In providing essential introductory readings online, along with video content and interviews with leading academics and practitioners, the University of London’s MOOCs are informative as well as relevant and timely for today’s students.

Through this work with MOOCs and Coursera, the University of London International Programmes can now call itself ‘The world’s largest classroom’, with 50,000 students worldwide, and over a million learners on the Coursera online platform for short courses, bringing the International Programmes’ global reach to 1,050,000 people around the world, covering more than 180 countries.

Contributed by the University of London International Programmes

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