TSL Education, publisher of The TES, is joining 18 universities around the world in developing a range of hi-tech distance learning courses.
The company, owned by News Corporation, is setting up a joint venture company to deliver degree and diploma courses utilising the latest satellite and internet technology.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, said the venture would give the partnership a strong position in the emerging virtual university sector.
It will deliver learning to millions after the project launches next year.
The universities, from eight countries, include those at Birmingham and Nottingham.
They have formed the Universitas 21 alliance, which is developing the content of the courses.
News Corporation wil provide the distribution and marketing, trading in part on its extensive satellite networks.
The venture also hopes to harness the power of the next generation of games consoles to deliver e-learning.
Mr Murdoch said: "News Corporation has taken a strategic decision to enter the distance-learning market, using our global distribution platforms, our advanced technologies and our marketing reach.
"A mutually-profitable partnership between leading providers in higher education and one of the world's leading media companies is a very strong proposition."
James MacManus, chief executive of TSL Education, said: "The partnership with Universitas 21 offers huge potential in the global market for higher education and we intend to develop it vigorously."