News & Events

Change in the EdX Model: From ‘Virtually Free’ to ‘Modest Support Fee’

KEEP - 18 May 2018



EdX is known for being one of the first MOOC platforms while being a non-profit organization. Most courses offered by EdX is free, only requiring payment for certificates upon completion of courses. Now, EdX is implementing and trying out a new financial policy through paywall tests. The announcement was made on May 3rd through an article on the edX blog written by Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX.

However, it is imperative to keep in mind that edX is rethinking their policy not to increase profits, but for sustainability. EdX is and will continue being a non-profit organization. The edX article stresses that a portion of their courses will remain free and that their mission is “to democratize higher education and to increase access to affordable education on a global scale”. Financial assistance will continue to be abundantly provided to those that require it as well.

Other MOOC providers have drifted away from the free approach for some time, edX being relatively slow to adopt payment systems. When edX discontinued its free honor certificates at the end of 2015, it was the last MOOC provider to do so.

The support fee will be assigned to certain verified courses, ranging from $50 USD to $300 USD, which is standard compared to other MOOCs from different providers. Udacity, another MOOC provider, shared with the public that it increased its annual revenue from $29M USD to $70M USD in 2017, by pivoting away from free courses and towards more expensive but high-quality, premium courses, such as their Nanodegrees.

However, Udacity is a for-profit organization, so edX’s policy changes are not expected to bring about such a drastic increase in earnings, but to “innovate and deliver affordable access to high-quality education in a way that will lead to sustainability”, according to Anant Agarwal.