In a press release last week the European Commission states that European Universities need to think global. With a new strategy named “European higher education in the world” the commission aims to prepare European students with the skills they need to work internationally and to attract more foreign students to study at one of the 4000 European universities.
According to the press release
… the number of higher education students in the world is expected to quadruple, from around 100 million in 2000 to 400 million in 2030, with particularly strong growth in Asia and Latin America. Europe currently attracts around 45% of all international students, but its competitors are rapidly increasing their investment in higher education. The largest providers of internationally mobile students are China, India and South Korea.
Besides promoting the long tradition of high quality education in Europe, the European Commission also believes that
… universities must also promote an international outlook among the 85% of students who are not mobile, so that they too acquire the international skills required in a globalised world. This means universities need to develop international curricula, promote language skills and expand digital learning.
To achieve these goals the European Commission is going to invest €400 million each year to support international student exchanges and increased cooperation between European universities and their partners worldwide.
This could of course lead to some significant investments in European MOOC platforms like iversity and FutureLearn which could help them to catch up with the heavily VC funded US-based competitors Coursera, Udacity and edX that all work on expanding their partner portfolio internationally.
Having the European Commission as investor would also give European MOOCs a strategic advantage in the way they operate. Other than VC backed MOOC platforms they would not need to focus too much on business models and revenue but could focus on pedagogy and partnerships.
On the other hand it is clear that MOOC platforms that are funded by VCs and run like tech startups are able to move faster as funding often comes faster and is attached to less restrictions which is of course an advantage for this kind of model.