A new company called FutureLearn is being set up to run this online project, which will be majority-owned by the Open University.
In America in 2012, so called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been pioneered by leading universities including Harvard, Stanford and MIT. Millions of students have registered for these courses already.
David Willetts, Universities Minister said this could “revolutionise conventional models of formal education.”
“The UK must be at the forefront of developments in educational technology. Massive Open Online Courses present an opportunity for us to widen access to, and meet the global demand for, higher education. This is growing rapidly in emerging economies like Brazil, India and China,” said Mr Willetts.
“New online delivery tools will also create incredible opportunities for UK entrepreneurs to reach world markets.”
The following BBC News article provides more information on this announcement by UK universities: UK universities in online launch to challenge US.