From employers to policymakers, universities and their students, everyone agrees that alternative credentials are a good thing for the economy and for expanding access to higher education. But it’s one thing to think it’s a good idea and another to make it happen. The truth is that demand for microcredentials remains low among students, the business plans are patchy, and higher education providers haven’t fully embraced the new models.

In this episode, we hear from an institution that has managed to get alternative credentialling right in a big way. The University of Edinburgh has been building Moocs (massive open online courses) and microcredentials for more than 10 years. It offers 80 online master’s courses and 100 Moocs and microcredentials, reaching 4.7 million learners around the world. Melissa Highton, assistant principal of online and open learning at the university, is here to tell us about their strategy behind developing Moocs, how they remain relevant to millions of learners and the secret behind their commercial success.

Michael D. Smith, a professor of information technology and public policy at Heinz College and Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, speaks with us about his recent book The Abundant University. Having observed disruption in the television and music industries, he urges universities to leverage technology to reach more students and secure their futures.

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