Mr. Bernard Martyris, Chief of Human Resources, VFS Global
VFS Global, the world’s largest visa application contractor, is entering the market for online education for the first time, to offer management and post-graduate Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) throughout the world.
VFS Global’ education arm - VFS Global Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd. – is launching a joint venture with the UK ed-tech start-up Oxademy.
VFS Global provide ‘identity management’ services to over 50 governments around the world – processing passports and visas – working for the UK, the Russian and the US governments among others (for instance, when you travel to India from the UK you would generally go to a VFS visa-processing centre).  
VFS Global will use this expertise to provide the most sophisticated ever identity checks on an online course. One of the weaknesses that has harmed the credibility of MOOCs and online education generally is the difficulty of proving to employers and academic institutions that the person who is doing the course work and exams online is the person whose name is on the certificate at the end. 
VFS are addressing this by importing the kind of security techniques they have developed for verifying visa information into education.  Their courses will also include a physical final exam where students will have to attend in person with ID.  If this security issue is addressed, it will make online courses - especially in emerging economies where there fraud is huge problem - much more attractive to potential employers.  
As you may know, MOOCs have been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of success; high sign-ups but high drop-out rates too, largely because of the lack of a personalised learning element, the monotony of rote learning, and students feeling isolated compared to traditional education models in which they directly contact with a teacher.
From its side, Oxademy is addressing this problem of lack of personal contract during MOOC courses by developing artificial intelligence (AI) based courses where the content adapts uniquely to the learner’s needs, and using blended learning in which students can chat online with tutors at any time. The AI system can judge, for example, if a learner is struggling with a particular exercise or spending a longer time than average to read through it.  The course content is then altered accordingly.
VFS-Oxademy will provide internationally accredited post-graduate and executive education programmes in full online and ‘blended’ modes – which combine online with classroom learning – for students and professionals from across the globe.  The aim is that students will be able to log on to these universally accessible programmes that will be affiliated with top universities in the UK and US.  VFS-Oxademy are currently in discussions with UK universities.
Courses offered initially will include Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Strategic Leadership (MSL) and Masters of Science in Organisation Leadership).  MBAs offered under the programme will be around a third of the cost (£7,000) of many other providers.
The ‘blended’ education model is unusual in online education because most MOOC providers don’t have an infrastructure.  VFS Global has 1,900 visa centres in 127 countries around the globe, so possesses a genuine international network where the classroom element of online learning can be provided.
VFS-Oxademy will target companies who might want to take advantage of the low-cost MOOCs model to invest in their workforce, especially in developing countries. 
Another way in which the VFS-Oxademy courses are different is that they offer actual work placements.  MBA students have to take part in a work placement as part of final stages of their course. VFS-Oxademy are offering the possibility of a ‘virtual work placement’ with a blue-chip organisation. For the first time this will allow students in the Middle East or India to work with a company in the UK via virtual technologies.  (This also suits employers who often struggle to find office space for work experience students but are happy to interact with them virtually).

VFS Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd., the education services arm of VFS Global, today (18 July) announced a partnership with award-winning UK-based Edtech Oxademy Technologies and its subsidiary Oxademy Business School to form the new global digital learning platform ‘VFS-Oxademy’.

VFS-Oxademy will offer a first-of-its-kind knowledge-driven artificial intelligence (AI) cloud infrastructure called OX360 which identifies each learner's strengths and weaknesses and generates learning paths based on individual learner’s behaviour, personalising the learning to each individual student.

The new platform is designed to be a response to the limitations of purely online courses, which have suffered from high drop-out rates, due in many cases to the lack of a personalised learning element, the monotony of rote learning, and students feeling isolated compared to education models in which they direct contact with a teacher.

The intuitive system will also provide real-time analysis of their performance data and include features such as a chat facility so that students can speak to tutors direct at any time and a mobile app to prompt students on which course material they need to study ahead of their next online session.

VFS-Oxademy will provide internationally-accredited post-graduate and executive education programmes in full online and ‘blended’ modes – combining online with classroom learning – for aspiring students and professionals from across the globe. Students can simply log on to these universally accessible programmes that will be affiliated with top universities in the UK and US, and benefit from expert tutelage of prominent alumni networks from across the globe.

Some of VFS-Oxademy’s key programmes include Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Strategic Leadership (MSL), Masters of Science in Organisation Leadership (MSOL), Global Leadership Programme (GLP), Authentic Leadership Development (ALD), Programme for Leadership Development (PLD) and Advanced Management Programme (AMP).

Uniquely, OX360 will allow MBA students to undertake a ‘virtual work placement’ with a blue chip organisation as part of the final stage of their studies, which require that they help solve a real-life business problem. This allows students in the Middle East or India to work with a company in the UK via virtual technologies.   This arrangement is often preferred by employers because it means they do not have to find physical space for a work placement student, and also widens the pool from which companies can recruit work placements.

OX360 courses will also address frequently raised concerns over fake qualifications in online courses, where it is sometimes unclear that the person taking the final exam online is the person that actually signed up to the course. VFS Global’s international expertise in identification management and certification has created a system that can give learners, academic institutions and employers confidence that security is watertight. Unusually, VFS-Oxademy students also have to complete a final physical exam where they will have to prove their identity.

Another significant benefit to students is the substantially lower cost of obtaining an accredited qualification through VFS-Oxademy. The ‘study from anywhere, anytime and on any device’ model of education allows students from across the world real-time accessibility to world-class education courses, at a price that is substantially more cost effective. For example, the cost of an MBA course under OX360 will be less than one third of the usual cost.

Oxademy has already partnered with Kazan Federal University, the second oldest in the Volga region and ranked ninth best university in Russia, providing technology and modules towards their MBA, and with Northwood University in the US where it is running its Master of Science in Organisational Leadership.

VFS-Oxademy’s collaborative digital learning platform OX360 is a significant milestone for both entities. VFS Edu Support Services will leverage on its wide geographical network of technology-enabled infrastructure to support the rollout OX360 technology and learning programmes globally. The fundamental objective of this collaboration is to revolutionise education by offering students from across the globe enhanced accessibility to world-class learning through an AI-driven next-gen digital platform.

Mr. Syed Shahzad (Oxon), Founder & CEO, Oxademy, said, “We are bringing learning to people instead of people to learning and its done by embracing the latest technologies available in digital human interaction and by using huge amount of data. We have developed an innovative platform and programmes that enhance the learning at large scale. VFS – Oxademy partnership is leading the way and pushing the boundaries by incorporating features that make use of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Analytics to evolve the education sector.”

Mr. Bernard Martyris, Chief of Human Resources, VFS Global, said, “A high quality education, especially for advanced professional degrees, carries lifelong benefits. A unique feature of the VFS-Oxademy programmes is that they can be customised to individual needs of students, irrespective of location or background. We are delighted to partner with Oxademy to offer digital learning programmes that make higher education more accessible to students, in a format that offers them all the advantages of getting an international degree from anywhere in the world.”

About Oxademy: Oxademy is a UK-based online education provider offering professional and academic programmes in entrepreneurship, leadership, business and management. Oxademy also boasts an artificial intelligence (AI) driven online digital learning platform that is made available to the education and corporate sectors globally.

Oxademy is an award winning Edtech and consultancy who work with clients from across the globe. The organisation’s value proposition believes in a “Learn, Innovate, Transform”.

About VFS Global Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd: VFS Global Edu Support Services Pvt. Ltd. is the education arm of VFS Global, the world's largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. VFS Global Edu Support Service’s portfolio includes specialist infrastructure and next-generation learning programmes through digital interfaces that support the educational and training needs for individuals, organisations and governments globally.

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