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Birkbeck expands into distance learning space allowing students even greater choice in how and when they study

Partnership with University of London will bring 15 new postgraduate and 50 short courses via online learning

For the first time, Birkbeck, University of London will offer postgraduate short courses alongside a vastly expanded range of postgraduate degree programmes, following a partnership between the College and the University of London (UoL) signed Wednesday 1st July 2020.

The partnership between Birkbeck, the UK’s leading provider of flexible higher education, and the University of London, one of the leading providers of online HE, will allow students even greater choice in how, when and where they study with Birkbeck. This is vital for mature students, many of whom juggle commitments, such as jobs or caring responsibilities, outside of university life, and it will also enable students across the UK and further afield to study with the College without having to travel to the Capital. The partnership will also see Birkbeck and the UoL moving beyond their core markets by providing short courses online, responding to the current demand for reskilling and upskilling in the aftermath of Brexit and COVID-19.

Professor David Latchman, Master, Birkbeck said, “In the 100th anniversary year of our joining the University of London, I am delighted to be forging a deeper relationship with the University to meet the evolving needs of our student population. Birkbeck was established to provide education to working Londoners, so it makes absolute sense for us to provide even greater choice in the way people learn with us, not only to those living in the Capital but also for students outside of London and across the world.

“Whilst the full degree programmes that we are offering through UoL will allow students to study for a prestigious University of London Masters with us online, the short courses will provide an attractive alternative to full degree programmes for students who prefer more flexible, modular pathways to their learning. They address the needs of students who are looking to continue their learning, so that their knowledge and skills are in line with the current market demands, without having to commit to a full degree programme. I am certain this partnership will be of huge benefit to students, especially as we emerge from the current pandemic.” 

Fifteen postgraduate degree programmes and around fifty professional education short courses will be offered through online distance learning by 2025. The courses will combine academic insights into real world problems with vocational and professional learning in a range of areas from from environment and sustainability to marketing and business-related subjects, which students can study at their own pace. The initial roll-out of new distance learning courses will see 13 short courses and 3 Masters courses offered in 2021, in addition to the MSc Marketing which will open in autumn 2020.

Professor Wendy Thomson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London said, “We are a pioneer in distance learning, providing access to high-quality, affordable, career-relevant higher education to students in the UK and across the globe for over 150 years. 

“Today, we look to the future with renewed ambition, as we partner with Birkbeck to invent new models of flexible education to equip learners with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in times of rapid change, regardless of age, background, location or circumstance. 

“Our organisations share common values and principles: equality of access, lifelong learning, the transformative power of education for individuals, societies and economies. These convictions are our guiding lights and our identity, so I am delighted to announce this partnership today, formed and forged in the strong bonds of the University of London federation.”

Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities said, “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is vital that we have a workforce equipped with the skills the country needs and universities have an important part to play in delivering flexible and accessible higher education to make that happen.

“I am delighted to see graduates being offered new short online courses by Birkbeck to further their skills and careers, and I look forward to seeing other providers continuing to take a similarly innovative approach to blended provision.”

Birkbeck has a long history of providing flexible higher education that enables students to study for modules or University of London degrees whilst maintaining their other commitments. Established nearly 200 years ago, the vast majority of its tuition is currently in the evenings, so extending its distance learning offer adds another layer of flexibility.

UoL works in collaboration with a number of the University of London's member institutions and currently offers 100 flexible and distance learning programmes to over 50,000 students in 190 countries. The institution introduced higher education distance learning to the world in 1858, allowing students to study for degrees outside of London.

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