Open Education Resources university

Outreach partnership programme

Qualifying institutions in the developing world can become an OERu participating partner for free!

The OERu Outreach Partnership Programme is a global charitable initiative of the OERu network, which seeks to widen access to open online learning materials for post-secondary learners for whom conventional higher education is out of reach for financial or access reasons. This corporate citizenship programme enables the OERu network to work in partnership with selected institutions, located in the developing world, that are committed to adopting and improving open education practices to achieve more sustainable education.

The programme strives to support capacity development in open education, specifically fostering South-North knowledge-sharing with post-secondary providers that cannot afford the annual OERu innovation partnership membership fee. Sign up here, without obligation, to receive free information (2 emails) about the Outreach Partnership Programme.


Endorsed by the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers, the Outreach Partnership Programme will:

  • Donate unrestricted access to all OERu open micro-courses, without requiring learners to register or Outreach Partners to incur any fees or online hosting costs.
  • Enable Outreach Partners to participate in the OERu decision-making process, including attendance of the annual international meeting of OERu partners. 
  • Offer free access to OERu’s relevant professional development courses and scholarships for Outreach Partner staff seeking assessed certification towards the OERu Practitioner Qualification and who are working on the design and development of OER courses for use in the OERu network.

Outreach Partners:

  • are selected from low and lower-middle income countries, as well as small states in developing countries,
  • are invited to contribute to the development of an OERu course in promoting South-North knowledge-sharing, and
  • commit to participating actively in the OERu, for the mutual benefit of the network and the learners it serves.

Have a question?

Please join the discussion on the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme on


Outreach partners


Frequently asked questions

We appreciate that your institution may need additional information about the operation of the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme, to assist with your consideration of joining our collaboration.  We have prepared answers to a number of Frequently Asked Questions below. (Click on the category to show the answers). 

+ Becoming an OERu outreach partner

Where can I find out more about the OERu?

The OERu is an international innovation partnership of like-minded institutions committed to widening access to more affordable higher education, using open educational resources (OERs).

See how the OERu works and find out about the many benefits partners enjoy as they open new doors to higher education. Established in 2011, you can explore the history of the OERu by visiting our dynamic timeline.

What is the cost to join OERu as an Outreach Partner?

Teaching institutions from qualifying countries can join for free. We recognise that many institutions in the developing world do not have the budget or funds to become financial members of the OERu; however, you may still wish to make a voluntary contribution. Each year, we will invite Outreach Partners to consider making a donation of any amount as a contribution to the global administration and infrastructure costs of hosting OERu courses.

Which institutions are eligible to join the OERu Outreach Partnership?

Accredited and publicly funded post-secondary institutions located in qualifying countries (i.e. low and lower middle income countries, plus small states in developing countries with a population below 5 million people) are eligible to join. We welcome both universities and vocational education institutions to join as Outreach Partners. Private, non-profit providers with charitable status may be considered for eligibility.

How does my institution apply to become an Outreach Partner?

Click on the ‘Apply now!’ button on this page and provide your contact details. We will send you information about the OERu, highlight the value proposition of OER and benefits of the partnership programme, and provide a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the OERu to review before joining the network. Once your institution has signed the MOU and it is approved by the OER Foundation, we will return a signed copy and you will be an official OERu Outreach Partner!

Can private institutions join the OERu Outreach Partnership?

The OERu Outreach Partnership is intended for government funded post-secondary education providers. The OERF will consider non-profit education providers that are accredited in their local jurisdiction and can provide proof of registration as a charitable organisation.

At this time, for-profit private institutions do not qualify for participation in the OERu Outreach Partnership. Private institutions are invited to consider joining the OERu network as fee-paying partners.

Will Outreach Partners be required to convert to becoming full-paying members in the future?

No, Outreach Partners can participate without paying membership fees for as long as they continue with the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme with a current Memorandum of Understanding agreement. Outreach Partners are free to convert to becoming OERu financial partners at any time, and will qualify for the additional benefits on the date of payment of the OERu membership fee of US$4,000 per year.

Do OERu financial members derive additional benefits?

Yes, OERu partners paying the fees required to become financial members gain additional benefits.

While these OERu financial members are committed both to the values of higher education as a public good and to the philanthropic goals of widening access to educational opportunity, through their respective community services missions, they qualify for additional benefits including:

  • Participation with voting rights on the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers
  • Designated leadership roles in the OERu organisational structures
  • Additional services associated with the development and hosting of selected OERu open source technologies.
  • OERF-coordinated articulation agreements for international transfer of transcript credit for OERu approved courses. 
  • Distribution of promotional materials for value-added services provided on top of OERu open online courses.
  • Ethical access to aggregated data relating to search trends and demographics of learners interested in assessment services for micro-credentials, in accordance with the OERu Privacy Policy and Privacy Notice.

Who signs the Memorandum of Understanding?

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be signed by an executive member of your leadership team with the authority to commit your organisation, for instance the Vice-Chancellor, Chief Executive Officer, President, or one of the Deputy Vice-Chancellors or Deputy Chief Executives. Therefore, it is important to discuss membership of the OERu Outreach Partner Programme with your leadership team. The OER Foundation, the non-profit legal entity coordinating the OERu network, will sign the agreement on behalf of the network.

What is the duration of the OERu Outreach Partners programme?

The initial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is for three (3) years, which can be extended by mutual agreement. The agreement may be terminated in writing before it expires.

Can I access the content of the campaign emails for the OERu Outreach Partners programme?

Yes, we provide open access to the content of the emails used for the information campaign:

+ Benefits for OERu outreach partners

What are the main benefits of joining the OERu Outreach Partnership programme?

The primary beneficiaries will be your learners, who will gain unrestricted access to all OERu’s open online micro-courses indefinitely to support your institution’s face-to-face or distance teaching courses, without the partner institution incurring any course development costs. Hosting of these online courses is provided for free. You will be joining an international network of like-minded institutions, and learn how to build cost-effective, open source solutions to support more sustainable education.

Will partnership with the OERu raise my institution’s international profile?

Yes, the OERu is an international network with partners from five continents. Outreach Partners will have a dedicated partner page on the website, which will raise your international brand exposure. In addition, links from the website back to your institution’s website is likely to enhance your search engine placement.

Can Outreach Partners participate in the OERu’s decision-making process?

Yes, Outreach Partners can participate in the OERu’s online decision-making processes. They can also can send a representative to the annual international meeting of OERu partners, as well as having any number of representatives engage as virtual participants during the meeting.

Will the OERu help my organisation to build local capacity in open educational practices?

Yes, the OERu will provide unrestricted access to our professional development online courses including:

  • Open education, copyright, and open licensing in a digital world.
  • Digital skills for collaborative OER development.
  • OER design and development project.

The OERu will provide full scholarships for assessment services towards the OERu Practitioner Qualification for staff working on the design and development of approved courses for incorporation into the OERu curriculum.

+ Commitments for outreach partners

What are the requirements for Outreach Partners to participate in the network?

The OER “commons” should not be limited by what institutions can take out for free, but should also include what institutions can give back for the benefit of the community. Outreach Partners are required to select and adopt a few OERu micro-courses, either as additional support materials or for reuse and integration into local courses offered to registered students. They must also publish a page on the Outreach Partner’s website to profile their membership in the OERu network, including links to the micro-courses they have selected for reuse. We expect Outreach Partners to design and develop one open online course for the OERu network while they are partners (additional courses are optional). Outreach Partners should encourage their staff to participate in OERu planning activities. The institution will be invited to complete a short annual survey to assist the OERF with monitoring and evaluating the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme.

How many courses should Outreach Partners adopt for local reuse?

There is no restriction on the maximum number of courses an Outreach Partner selects to adopt for local reuse. However, we expect Outreach Partners to reuse the equivalent of two courses (or a mix of six (6) micro-courses) from the full list of OERu courses. We strongly recommend that the institution adopts two (2) or more of the micro-courses from the OERu’s Learning in a Digital Age course.

Must Outreach Partners adopt the full set of micro-courses for the associated full course?

Each OERu full-course is assembled from three (3) or four (4) micro-courses. There is no requirement to adopt the full set of associated micro-courses. For instance, it would be possible for an Outreach Partner to select one micro-course as support materials, or for reuse in a local course. This would count towards the recommended six (6) micro-courses for local adoption.

Can a full OERu course be approved for teaching and assessed for credit towards a local qualification?

Yes, Outreach Partners are encouraged to reuse OERu courses for local qualifications, in accordance with their institutional approval processes. This would represent a significant return from the OERu partnership, because the partner institution can adopt high quality online courses without incurring any development costs. Designed for independent study, OERu courses can easily replace expensive textbooks and be integrated into face-to-face offerings on campus. Note that local credit does not qualify for transfer within the network, and any articulation arrangements are subject to separate bilateral agreements.

Can Outreach Partners charge tuition fees or assessment fees for OERu courses?

There are no restrictions on the autonomy of Outreach Partners to generate fees for value-added services associated with OERu online courses, for example: full-tuition or assessment-only services.

+ Benefits for the OERu network

Why is the OERu offering free membership to institutions in the developing world?

The OERu is a charitable collaboration, and part of our philanthropic mission is to help organisations realise the many benefits of open education. We recognise that many institutions in the developing world do not have adequate funding to become financial members of the OERu. This, however, is where the need for affordable access is arguably the greatest. We also recognise that institutions in the developing world can add significant value to our cooperation through South-North knowledge-sharing. The OERu gains strength through increased diversity.

How do Outreach Partners contribute to the OERu’s strategic goals?

There are two significant ways in which Outreach Partners assist OERu in achieving our goals:

  1. Widening access and reuse of OERu learning online materials, especially for learners who can’t afford access to proprietary materials, generating greater return on investment for the development of OERu micro-courses.
  2. Diversifying and increasing the inventory of open online course materials by enriching OERu curricula (for example: where Outreach Partners develop OER courses in indigenous knowledge or history of the qualifying country, etc).

+ General

My institution is not located in a qualifying country and we can’t afford the OERu membership fees - can we still join the OERu Outreach Partnership Programme?

Regrettably, in the short term, this will not be possible. Achieving a fiscally sustainable OER collaboration requires tough compromises to constrain our costs in providing free hosting.

The OER Foundation, the non-profit entity which coordinates the OERu, is a small organisation with a big vision (currently only two full-time staff). We would love to provide free membership to all institutions in the world who can’t afford membership fees, but we need to generate sustainable revenue to support our central technical infrastructure and operations.

At this time, our financial capacity to extend the OERu Outreach Partnership beyond qualifying countries is not possible. Please note that, as an OER project, you are free to reuse, adapt, and modify any of our courses for your own purposes. However, it would be possible to consider donor or government-funded projects to cover the cost of full OERu membership. Talk to to us!

+ Comparison of benefits

The following table provides a comparison of benefits for OERu Outreach and Financial Partners.


Outreach Partner

Financial Partner

Partner’s page on the website

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Participation in OERu planning activities

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Free hosting of OERu online courses on the website

 Check icon Check icon

Reuse of OERu online micro-courses

 Check icon Check icon

Design and development of OERu micro-courses

 Check icon Check icon

Reuse of published assessments and assessment rubrics

 Check icon Check icon

Professional development in open educational practices

 Check icon Check icon

Participation in the annual OERu international partners’ meeting

 Check icon Check icon

Assessment scholarships for the ‘OERu practitioner’ credential

 Check icon Check icon

Technical ‘recipes’ for hosting OERu open source technologies

 Check icon Check icon

Hosting of partner-branded versions of OERu micro-courses

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Designated leadership roles in OERu organisational structures

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Participation with voting rights on the OERu Council of Chief Executive Officers

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Hosting of selected open source applications

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Distribution of promotional material for assessment services

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Ethical access to aggregated data relating to search trends and demographics of learners interested in assessment services for micro-credentials

  Check icon