SA’s largest private higher education provider partners with UK counterpart


The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider, has strengthened its partnership with The Open University (OU), the largest education institution in the UK, in a collaboration that is set to change the way students access distance learning education opportunities in South Africa and on the rest of the continent.

The two organisations today signed a Memorandum of Strategic Intent at the Sandton Head Office of JSE-listed ADvTECH PTY Ltd, the holding company of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).

Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, which already is the only South African institution accredited by the British Accreditation Council, says the partnership will spark a substantial increase in globally relevant options for IIE students and alumni. 

“The only form of international recognition and partnership that has real value is one in which we are able to develop our own offerings to students to continue to meet verified standards.  To be able to work with a global leader in distance education to develop the competency of our staff, the presentation of our curriculum and the chances of success of our students is an opportunity we are excited to embrace. 

“To be able to add to that our existing expertise and have The Open University interested in how we work and being willing to partner with us in our development goals in Africa is the result of several years of partnership and cooperation we have already enjoyed,” she says.

Coughlan says The Independent Institute of Education and The Open University share a commitment to developing graduates who are ready for a global career, and who are able to articulate academically and in the world of work.

The Open University is the global leader in flexible distance learning, and has taught more than 1.8 million students for almost half a century. Its current student body numbers over 170 000 – 15 000 of them outside the UK. Significantly, more than 70% of these students are in full or part-time employment, while four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to further their education through the institution.

The agreement between the institutions provides for:

  • The joint exploration of possibilities for ongoing collaboration, including the increased integration of OU educational methodology into IIE qualifications,
  • the joint development of opportunities to participate in the growth of the Higher Education sector in Africa; and
  • ongoing opportunities for students of The Independent Institute of Education to have their credits recognised for access to both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications abroad.

Steve Hill, Director of External Engagement at The Open University, says this new strategic agreement is set to have a major impact on Higher Education quality, options and access in South Africa and beyond.

“The combination of world-leading learning innovation from the OU and the long-standing local expertise of IIE will be of great benefit to students,” he says.

“We look forward to our continued relationship over the coming months and years, and particularly the realising of the potential to provide outstanding higher education to more students across Africa.”

The IIE already offers more than 70 qualifications, from short courses to post-graduate degrees, through its brands including Vega, Varsity College, Rosebank College and The Design School SA.

The partnership between The IIE and The OU follows an announcement earlier this week that IIE holding company ADvTECH acquired the majority share in the University of Africa, in line with its expansion strategy.


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Bontle Moeng is the Founder and Managing Director of BizNis Africa. Moeng has spent 15 years working in the digital and online media industry across Africa. She applied her trade at True Love magazine prior to discovering her passion for Investment news in key sectors across Africa. Moeng previously worked for ITWeb, Starfish Mobile Technologies, ITNewsAfrica, AVATAR Agency, eNitiate, Global Interface Consulting and Havas Johannesburg. Her primary focus is to provide solid and valuable content on investment opportunities for the ICT, Energy and Mining sectors across Africa. In addition, the online news publication assists global companies to expand their presence in Africa. Email:

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