The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants will recognise certain massive open online courses, the UK-based FutureLearn Mooc platform announced today and will grant exemptions to learners who pass the associated examinations.

FutureLearn said ACCA was the first professional body to sponsor one of its Moocs, which are free to online learners. The first Mooc to gain the organisation’s seal of approval is called Discovering Business in Society, which is due to launch in September.

Developed in partnership with ACCA by the University of Exeter Business School, the course is aimed at anyone interested in learning the principles of business. After successfully passing an invigilated exam, it will lead to exemption from paper F1 (Accountant in Business), a standard module in the ACCA qualification.

“This is the first instance I have come across of a professional body collaborating on a Mooc,” said Simon Nelson, chief executive of FutureLearn.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology and BT have also signed on to sponsor Moocs on FutureLearn for professional recognition, but the ACCA is the first to identify a course for professional accreditation.

Mr Nelson explained that although learning on the course will be free, students interested in gaining the qualification will have to pay for the examination which will be tailored to the actual course they have done, rather than the ACCA standard module.

Mr Nelson said FutureLearn was in a tendering process with test centre providers who would be able to offer the examinations in centres all over the world. Fees for the exam will be set after the provider has been selected. Students, however, will make a simple payment to FutureLearn to cover all expenses.

Robin Mason, dean of the University of Exeter Business School said: “We are very much looking forward to joining together with the ACCA and FutureLearn to be a part of this new and exciting opportunity.”

The use of Moocs for passing professional examinations could be a growth area in the future.

“This could be the start of professional training towards a prestigious and respected global qualification. But it doesn’t stop there – Moocs can also be used by our members to meet their needs for continuing professional development throughout their careers,” said Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA.

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