As part of the deal, 2U will acquire all of edX’s assets for $800m in cash. It is expected that 2U and edX will now be able to reach over 50 million learners globally, serve more than 230 partners, and offer over 3,500 digital programs.
“We believe we can fully realise our shared vision, meet the growing worldwide demand for online education”
2U, which contracts with non-profit colleges and universities to offer online degree programs, expects to approach $1bn in yearly revenue by the end of 2021.
“2U and edX were founded on a shared vision that online education has the power to expand access, create opportunity, and transform lives,” said 2U co-founder and CEO Christopher Paucek.
“Alongside university partners and contributing faculty, Anant Agarwal and the edX team have built an innovative, respected, and globally recognised destination for online higher education.
“By combining 2U and edX’s global reach and offerings from free to degree, together we believe we can fully realise our shared vision, meet the growing worldwide demand for online education, and deliver growth and long-term value to shareholders and other stakeholders.”
2U plans to operate edX as a “public benefit entity” and says it is committed to fulfilling the edX mission by guaranteeing affordability through the continuation of a free track to audit courses.
It will also protect the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities that contribute MOOCs; ensuring that participating colleges and universities can continue under their standing agreements with edX.
2U will protect the privacy of individual data for all learners who use the edX platform and contribute to the ongoing development of the fully open source and independent platform Open edX, owned by the nonprofit led by MIT and Harvard.
“As edX looks to its next phase of growth and impact, joining forces with 2U marks a major milestone in our evolution,” said Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO of edX and MIT Professor.
“2U’s people, technology, and scale will expand edX’s ability to deliver on its mission of providing access to high-quality education to enable all learners to unlock their potential.
“Together with our university and institutional partners, we will continue to reimagine education in ways that transform the lives of global citizens and positively impact generations to come.”
Rajay Naik, chief executive of skilled education and a co-founder of FutureLearn said that the acquisition is another example of the large-scale consolidation taking place in the online higher education sector, with private sector companies increasingly determined to diversify their services and deepen relationships with public universities.
“Public private partnerships will become increasingly important to adapt pedagogy, widen access and diversify income,” Naik said.
“This announcement underscores how British providers must retain their global distinctiveness as we seek to serve millions more students and keep pace with other international markets.”