SINGAPORE: The National Library Board (NLB) did not award a new contract to the online learning and teaching platform Udemy Business due to the high price the company is charging for the new licensing model.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How explained in Parliament earlier this week that the new price was “several times” the old one while at the same time offering fewer courses. Furthermore, he added that the new model will also impose restrictions on the number of course users.

From Dec 15 onward, access to NLB’s subscription to Udemy Business will no longer be available, which, according to a report from TODAY, has made some local users of the platform unhappy.

However, Mr Tan assured Members of Parliament that the NLB is looking for alternatives to Udemy Business for Singapore users after the company’s licensing model had changed and its contract was not renewed.

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“NLB will also continue to identify suitable e-learning resources to replace offerings by Udemy Business and expects to make available new resources in the coming months,” he said.

Mr Tan answered questions in Parliament regarding the issue on Wednesday (Nov 22). To aid MPs’ understanding of the matter, he compared the situation to a restaurant that had changed the pricing and rules for its buffet offering where it had once just charged a fixed price.

“But with a new model, maybe the restaurant tells you that the price that you pay at the door is a few times higher now. You go into the restaurant; you’re only entitled to a plate of rice and maybe two or three dishes (of) cooked food. Anything else you’d have to top up, pay extra.”

And concerning Udemy Business’s new model, TODAY quotes Mr Tan as saying, “So the question for us is that with a much more expensive model, does it still meet the needs of our learners?”

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However, Singaporeans who wish to avail of courses from Udemy Business can use their credits from the SkillsFuture programme. When they finish these courses, they can submit their claims for reimbursement.

A spokesperson from Udemy was quoted in TODAY as saying,

“Our fresh and relevant courses are cost-effective, and we also provide over 23,000 free courses on our platform. Udemy Business offers thousands of courses for corporations of different sizes, and encourages them to reach out to us if they’re interested in offering Udemy courses to their employees.”

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