The Open University (OU) is the UK’s largest academic institution and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since 1969, the OU has taught over 1.8m students and has almost 170,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas. 70% of students are in full or part-time employment, and 4 out of 5 FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses. In the latest Research Excellence Framework nearly three quarters of our research was assessed as 4 or 3 star and designated as world-leading or internationally excellent.
In being “open to people, places, methods and ideas” the Open University are committed to sharing and building their knowledge and understanding with learners and citizens across the globe through their strong tradition of excellent research and their expertise in supported distance learning.
They play a unique role in promoting educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential, but may have had their opportunities restricted though lack of social, educational or cultural capital.
They have led the learning revolution and pioneered innovative teaching methods that enable us to reach people and communities that other universities are not able to reach, particularly those for whom part time and distance education are the only options. Their commitment to teaching excellence is as strong today as at our inception. The Students First Strategy, launched in July 2016 strives to ensure they remain true to their values.
The Open University helps many thousands of people each year make a change in their lives for the better by providing the opportunity to combine study with employment and other important life commitments. For some students, success is about broad personal and intellectual development; for many others, it is about helping them build the specific skills, experience and knowledge to progress in their career.
A recent OU campaign entitled #Iwas, has brought together members of their learning community to highlight the value of flexible distance learning and the role it can play in addressing the UK skills gap. Flexible learning enables people to reskill and upskill, whatever their background or personal circumstances.
They are proud to be the only University that operates across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their four-nation perspective is a distinctive source of strength and value. They are able to bring the benefits of scale but flex to meet the specific social, economic and cultural needs in each nation.
Their impact in widening access to high-quality university education also extends across the globe, currently working with education institutions in 25 countries to help build capacity and capability. The OU’s international development work includes projects in Africa and Asia to deliver large-scale impact in areas such as frontline health, teacher education and English language teaching.
The Open University makes a wider contribution to society that goes beyond directly registered students. Tens of thousands qualify with them via approved partners offering validated awards and millions of people engage with their free online learning materials on OpenLearn, FutureLearn and other platforms. Their unique partnership with the BBC takes OU research and learning into millions of homes across the globe.
“The GTEA ….enables us to showcase our unique teaching model, our wider social mission and our innovative teaching methods on an international platform. We are also in the process of refreshing our Learning and Teaching Plan and welcomed the opportunity to reflect on our strengths and the areas we wish to focus on for future development.”
Professor Hazel Rymer, Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching Innovation