UK universities create modules for the Worldwide Universities Network.
UKeU, the government-backed company set up to provide online degrees from UK universities to students around the world, has teamed up with the Worldwide Universities Network to run a series of modules in English for academic purposes.
The UK members of the Worldwide Universities Network's (Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton and York universities) will each develop course materials and provide online tuition.
The modules will be designed to prepare students for study in the range of programmes provided by UKeU. As well as focusing on English language and related academic and communication skills for students for whom English is not their first language, the courses will be tailored to support students' learning in the academic area of their degree programme.
The modules will be initially developed to support programmes in business management, computer science, IT, health and the environment.
The courses will be aimed at postgraduate students with competence in English, but where this is insufficient for postgraduate-level study. In the future, complementary modules will be developed for students embarking on undergraduate studies with UKeU.
The modules will be in line with the National Qualifications Framework - the benchmark for languages and related studies - and will be part of the Worldwide Universities Network's quality assurance framework.
Students successfully completing the courses will be eligible to begin postgraduate studies in their specialist area and will receive a certificate of completion and a detailed transcript of the levels they have attained.
John Beaumont, chief executive of UKeU, said, "The provision of e-learning for English as a foreign language is a fast-developing industry, and we intend to be at the front of the race.
"In most English-speaking countries, commercial and non-commercial provision is rapidly growing, with fierce competition. These modules are aimed at the emerging end of the market - the advanced academic learner - which is where we have the most expertise."
Mike Kelly, director of the e-languages consortium at the University of Southampton, said, "I know we shall be of real help to those students who need to raise their English language to a higher level and develop more advanced academic study skills. A major segment of the range of skills provided by e-learning is the English language. Our modules will run on UKeU's website and as more programmes are brought online by UKeU, we will create new modules to support them."
David Pilsbury, chief executive of the Worldwide Universities Network, said, "Language skills are absolutely vital to realise the power of the internet and to provide access to knowledge and educational opportunities on a global basis.
"We see this programme as a crucial part of making the best in English language education available to students wherever they are located, and look forward to enhancing the provision of language tuition worldwide."