THE University of Sussex has signed a new ten-year partnership with top learning company Pearson.

The hope is to enrol 1,000 online distance learners within five years by delivering postgraduate qualifications online.

The first course, an MSc in International Marketing, is now accepting applications to start in September.

Further courses are planned, including an MSc in Energy Policy and an MSc in Sustainable Development.

Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: “We have responded to the growing demand from students around the world and across the UK for more flexible ways of studying.

“The world is changing fast and demand for a high-quality education, like ours, has never been higher.

“These new degrees will give hundreds more people that opportunity, fitting around their lifestyles and other commitments.

“Our ambition is clear – we want to be a world leader in flexible, online learning and these degrees are a hugely exciting first step in making that a reality.”

All teaching, content, educational expertise and course delivery is owned by the university while Pearson oversees instructional design, technology, course marketing, student recruitment, retention and support.

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson’s UK and Core business, said: “This partnership opens up the opportunity for learners across the world to study at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities.

“It is a real demonstration of British higher education excellence being opened up to benefit both UK and international students.

“For Pearson, improving access to higher education in partnership with universities using online capability, presents a significant opportunity to make an impact on learning.

“We have built up extensive expertise in helping universities scale online and our partnership with the University of Sussex is a tremendous opportunity to help improve access to high quality learning for more students around the world.”

Teaching will be delivered by University of Sussex academics and practitioners, giving students access to a dedicated support network.

The quality of the teaching and learning is exactly the same as for a degree resulting from on campus study - and students get the same academic award at the end of their studies.

Partnerships that improve online access to higher education present an important opportunity for the sector and for Pearson.

This is the fourth UK partnership that Pearson has launched and the 14th signed programme in the UK.

Pearson also has more than 40 partnerships in the US and two in Australia.

It argues that learning opens up opportunities.