In 2017, as we were initially launching our relationship with London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), I believed the partnership had immense potential. Although LSE was founded 125 years ago, it has always embraced innovation and a commitment to meet the demands of working professionals. That legacy, combined with their long history of excellence, made them an ideal partner for GetSmarter. And while an unlikely pairing at the time—a young South African edtech company on the verge of acquisition and one of the most prominent social science universities in the world—what we have built together has impacted thousands of working professionals across the globe...and counting.
How it all started
It was early on in my career at GetSmarter when I was first introduced to LSE. An RFP request via LinkedIn launched me into a whirlwind process of submitting a proposal within a two-day deadline. My counterpart at LSE was (and still is) Russell Brooks, associate director of executive education and online learning, who, despite being new to LSE at the time, dreamt big. He pushed me to dream bigger, too, about where we could go together and how to go about doing it as one cohesive unit rather than two separate entities.
For LSE, that dream was to go back to their roots to deliver short, professional programs, and they decided to do it online with us.
Growth through trust
What started as one successful short course became nine in three years. That success was earned. It came from riding the ups and downs together—whether that was trying new ways of doing things or GetSmarter’s acquisition by 2U, Inc. in 2017. Through it all, we persevered by pushing each other beyond what we thought to be the realm of possibility.
I would like to think LSE sees us as an extended part of their team. A partnership built on real relationships. A partnership rooted in mutual respect. We wouldn’t be where we are today without that trust.
I believe that trust, at least in part, comes from believing in and executing on LSE’s vision. They have always dreamt bigger than us, and, as one, we bring their innovation to life. LSE was founded on the basis that business and government needed new training, new inspiration, new research-informed ideas, and that’s what they will have the opportunity to continue to do online.
Expanding the possibilities
The success and quality at scale of our short courses gave LSE the confidence to take some of their learnings from short courses and apply them to their distance learning programme consisting of undergraduate correspondence degrees.
In August of 2019, we announced our first undergraduate degree in partnership with LSE and the University of London: a Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Business Analytics. Now, we’ve expanded that partnership to include a total of seven undergraduate degrees.
What we’ve learned
Together, we’ve made change happen—both at LSE and 2U—and for that I’m proud. I’m proud of the growth we’ve achieved, I’m proud of the direction our partnership is heading in, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with an incredible team of dreamers at LSE and look forward to doing the same with the University of London.
If you had told me at the start of our relationship with LSE that we’d be where we are now with nine short courses and seven undergraduate degrees, I wouldn’t have been surprised. There’s tremendous potential for what we can do together to help LSE become the leader in lifelong learning that they aspire to be and I look forward to continuing to dream as one.