The University of New South Wales has joined several prominent international institutions by putting some of its courses online through the internet-education group Coursera.

Coursera is the world’s largest provider of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the US-based company exists to provide free access to high-quality education for those who cannot afford or are otherwise unable to attend the institutions themselves. In previous years Coursera has partnered with top universities such as Stanford, Yale, Columbia and more than 80 others, enrolling over four million students in the process. UNSW and Coursera announced the new partnership ahead of a public forum; the Australian university said it was delighted to sign on to the leading online education platform.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin says: “We now have the opportunity to work with great partners around the world to build UNSW’s digital education profile... importantly; it is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate some of the best online teaching practices and technological advancements into degree programs taught at UNSW, benefiting all our students and enriching their educational experience.”

Coursera’s Professor Koller said: “We’re happy to announce that the University of New South Wales is joining Coursera’s network of global educational partners... with its strengths in a broad range of disciplines... we look forward to working with the University as its faculty members explore the benefits of online education within their own classrooms, and share their knowledge with the world beyond.”

UNSW will now work to identify its strongest courses - compared to those already available on Coursera – and begin converting curricula to an online form. Initial offerings will be in science and engineering, commencing in early 2014.

On Thursday August 1, UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer will speak at a joint UNSW–United States Studies Centre (USSC) public forum titled “What MOOCs mean for universities – revolution or evolution?” He will be joined by Professor Koller and Mr Andrew Stevens, Managing Director of IBM Australia and NZ.