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Dublin: 15 °C Wednesday 20 August, 2014

Want to go to Harvard? Now you can… online and for free

Two of the world’s top universities have joined forces to offer course materials over the internet.

The Harvard campus
The Harvard campus
Image: Allie_Caulfield via Flickr

EVER WANTED TO attend classes at the world’s number one university? Well, now you can – sort of – thanks to a new online initiative.

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined forces to offer free online course materials to anyone who wants to use them, regardless of their previous qualifications or achievement.

Users who complete certain internet-based courses may even be awarded a special credential, if the example set by MIT is followed. In December, the Boston-based college announced that it would give diplomas known as MITx to some online-only students.

Both Harvard and MIT consistently rank among the world’s top ten universities, with basic fees for most students starting at more than $30,000 a year.

Announcing the scheme – known as edX – today, Harvard President Drew Faust and MIT President Susan Hockfield said they hoped other leading institutions would join them in releasing educational materials for free.

In a statement on Harvard’s website, the university said:

MIT and Harvard expect that over time other universities will join them in offering courses on the edX platform. The gathering together of many universities’ educational content on one site will enable learners worldwide to access the course content of any participating university from a single website.

MIT has previously run a program called OpenCourseWare that makes materials from more than 2,000 classes available free online.

Faust said beginning this autumn, edX will offer an array of courses developed by staff at both institutions.

Other universities, including Stanford, Yale and Carnegie-Mellon, have been experimenting with teaching to a global audience online.

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