Together, 2U and edX create one of the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online learning platforms, reaching over 40 million learners globally
Combination addresses critical global need for high-quality, accessible, affordable education for learners at every stage of life
Lanham, Md. and Cambridge, Mass., November 16, 2021 — 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), a global leader in education technology, today announced it has completed its previously announced acquisition of substantially all assets of edX, a world-leading online learning platform and education marketplace. The acquisition brings together the unique strengths and complementary capabilities of two major forces in online education to create one of the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online learning platforms.
2U is the parent company, with edX operating as its global online learning platform and primary brand for products and services. Together, 2U and edX will now serve more than 230 partners—including 19 of the top 20 ranked universities globally—and offer more than 3,500 online learning opportunities to over 40 million learners, including free courses, executive education, boot camps, and undergraduate and graduate degrees. The transaction will immediately expand learner access to affordable, career-relevant online education from the world’s best institutions, while providing university and corporate partners with the technology and support to deliver high-impact, high-quality digital education that reaches millions of learners worldwide.
“There is an urgent need across society to make learning affordable, accessible and equitable – for all learners, at every stage of life. Meeting that mission made edX a global brand and a top destination for learners everywhere,” said 2U Co-Founder and CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek. “That’s the mission we now advance together, helping higher education institutions and employers build a sustainable future, offering the continuum of high-quality learning experiences people need to enhance their lives and careers, and making all of it possible on one of the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online learning platforms.”
Anant Agarwal, who as founder and CEO of edX directed its evolution into a leading global online learning platform, will join 2U. As Chief Open Education Officer, he will continue to steward the edX mission as part of 2U’s executive team, reporting to CEO Chip Paucek. edX Chief Technology Officer JP Beaudry has been appointed Chief Technology Officer at 2U, succeeding former CTO James Kenigsberg, and edX VP of Product Lauren Holliday has been appointed Managing Director of Open Courses & Marketplace at 2U.
“2U and edX were remarkable in our respective areas. But together, we are unbeatable, a mission-driven multiplier of human potential,” said Agarwal. “Our synergy creates choice: we will be able to create all of the experiences and modalities that learners care about. And we will do so on one of the most comprehensive learning platforms available, with a unified experience that lets learners focus on learning, faculty and course creators focus on pedagogy, and all of us focus on impact. We will be part of every learner’s life journey.”
The Next Era of Online Learning Begins Today
New Investments to Expand the Reach and Impact of edX: A multi-million dollar brand marketing campaign launches this week to expand the reach of edX partner organizations and help more people around the world discover transformative online education. edX and 2U have also pledged a million dollars in funding to support the production of 10 new free courses in Essential Human Skills for the Virtual Age to be developed by the edX partner community.
More Education-to-Career Pathways for Learners from University and Corporate Partners: Leveraging the tech-enabled services of 2U, edX partner Boston University has committed to launching a new disruptively priced Master of Public Health degree. In addition, partners Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Google, and IBM have all recently launched or plan to launch new courses and programs on the edX platform, reflecting their continued commitment to bringing edX learners university-level offerings and modular and stackable programs to achieve their goals.
Commitments from Existing 2U Partners to Provide Open and Affordable Online Education Programs: Today, more than 25 2U partners are joining the edX Consortium and committing to contribute affordable, high quality learning to edX.org, including Howard University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Morehouse College, Syracuse University, UC Davis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University and others.
Elimination of Partner Fees to Remove Barriers and Meet Global Learner Demand: 2U and edX are eliminating all membership and annual fees for edX Consortium members, removing barriers for university and corporate partners to bring affordable online courses to edX’s community of learners around the world.
A Renewed Mission to Create Affordable Higher Education Pathways
2U has committed to further edX’s founding mission to expand access to affordable, high quality education and enable all learners to unlock their potential through a series of legally-binding commitments that include:
operating edX as a public benefit company
guaranteeing affordability through the continuation of a free track to audit courses
protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities
ensuring that participating colleges and universities may continue under their standing agreements with edX
protecting the privacy of learners who use the edX platform
contributing to the ongoing development of the open source platform Open edX, owned by the non-profit led by MIT and Harvard
The proceeds of the transaction will directly fund the nonprofit that will continue under the leadership of edX founders Harvard and MIT, supporting work focused on improving educational outcomes, reducing inequities in education, and continuing to advance next generation learning experiences and platforms, including but not limited to, Open edX.
Anant Agarwal will serve as one of 2U’s representatives on Open edX’s new Technical Oversight Committee, responsible for guiding the technical direction and vision of the open source platform and community to support learning outcomes around the world.