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Online IMF course involves the world´s elite university brands

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to join an online university network and will run finance courses which will be available free to students around the world.

The global organisation, responsible for promoting financial stability, is going to deliver courses in partnership with the edX online university platform, set up by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The IMF will run two courses in financial policy, aimed initially at government officials, with plans to make this open to the public next year.

These online university projects, so-called MOOCs (massive open online courses), can attract hundreds of thousands of students for individual courses.

The IMF already runs training programmes for staff such as central bankers and finance ministry officials. The online university is a way of making this information accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Following the semi-automated format of such courses, there will be online questions accompanied by discussion forums where students can share problems and get advice. Students will get a certificate rather than a degree.

The edX online platform carrying the IMF courses is one of the flagships of the new wave of digital universities. This not-for-profit partnership is already offering courses from more than 20 leading universities, but the IMF course is the first time that it will have been used to provide courses from an international governmental institution.

After only one year, the edX platform has gained more than a million students in 192 countries. These range from ambitious but isolated students in Africa through to people already at university in the developed world.Students in India and China have been helped to get places in MIT by their high achievement in edX online courses.

Much of the original attention surrounding MOOCs revolved around the involvement of some of the world´s elite university brands.

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