What is the Commonwealth of Learning?

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

Hosted by the Government of Canada and headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is the world’s only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 52 independent sovereign states, which provide support to each other, and work together toward international goals. The Commonwealth is described as a "family" of nations, originally linked together in the British Empire, and now building on their common heritage in language, culture and  education, which enables them to work together in an atmosphere of greater trust and understanding than generally prevails among nations.

Establishment and role of COL | Strategic Plan 2015-2021


The Commonwealth of Learning's focus is in strengthening institutions in developing Commonwealth countries that are striving to provide affordable education to larger numbers of their citizens. COL is not an educational institution. It does not register students and does not directly offer courses or programmes of study. COL does not provide an accreditation service. COL is also unable to provide directories of courses available in the Commonwealth.