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Shared exploitation of the FTA
The business model of the FTA is a joint venture focused on the development and exploitation of courses through the FTA Virtual Campus. There is a growing demand for specialists in Free Technologies, and a derived demand for the education of such specialists, while not many high level programmes are geared to satisfy those needs. Thus, there is a good opportunity for setting up and exploiting such educational programme.
To do this at HE level, with high quality programme, materials and lecturers involves an investment that can not be easily assumed by one partner alone. Instead, a joint programme such as the FTA promises lower costs to the partners and higher opportunities to be successful and reach more learners.
The FTA offers its partners the following economical opportunities:
- shared costs in the production and maintenance of course materials and a state-of-art study programme;
- shared costs for joint communication efforts to reach learners, potential staff and guest lecturers;
- shared costs for setting up a state-of-art virtual campus, aiming to be a showcase fully based on Free Software, Open Standards and with Open Educational Resources;
- shared costs for maintaining a common set of quality assurance and recognition procedures, including an international Scientific Council;
- shared income generated by the student fees for courses at the FTA;
- income generated by selling printed copies of course materials;
- employ partners' own staff for the FTA programme.
More concretely the shared exploitation of the FTA defines the shared costs and income as follows:
- Selected personnel from the partners will be brought into the FTA for teaching and other activities, thereby assigning part of its costs to the FTA.
- The teaching at the FTA will follow quality assurance procedures agreed by the Board.
- The development of courses, and in later stages a complete curriculum, takes place in the Course Development team and costs are shared between the partners as agreed by the Board.
- External Communication is coordinated in the Communication team and its costs are assigned to the FTA, according to the budget agreed by the Board.
- Efforts for expanding the FTA Associate Partner Network are conducted in the Network Building activities and its costs are assigned to the FTA according to the budget agreed by the Board.
- The distribution of printed course materials is another possible source of income for the FTA and shall be decided upon by the Board.
The exploitation of the FTA was initially supported by the EC Lifelong Learning Programme. The aim of the project was to use the same economical model, as described above, and use the LLP funds as start up investment. Today, the objective remains a break-even point thanks to the income generated from the tuition fees.