06 Feb 2007

The Open University extends reach through Tesco Clubcard partnership

An innovative partnership between The Open University and Tesco sees shoppers able to pay for all or part of an OU course by exchanging Tesco Clubcard vouchers.

The OU is the first university to add the Clubcard scheme to its marketing activity. Millions of Tesco Clubcard holders will be encouraged to consider undergraduate study through the University by exchanging the vouchers they hold for full or part-payment towards OU courses.

The new scheme is the latest example of the University’s work to ensure it is as flexible as it can be in offering ways to fund undergraduate study, said Professor Brenda Gourley, the University’s Vice-Chancellor. She added: “This is an exciting and innovative partnership that is true to the University’s founding mission – to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. The partnership allows the University to extend our reach to new students, who have the opportunity to gain access to our courses without incurring any debt.

“We aim to make access to the University’s programmes as flexible as possible. This extends to giving our students a number of options to meet course fees – and this new deal is now one of those options.”

Tesco shoppers can swap their vouchers for Clubcard Deals and receive four times their value, so for every £10 of Clubcard vouchers shoppers will receive £40 towards paying for their OU undergraduate course.

Nick McCormack, head of partnerships at Tesco Freetime, said: “We’re delighted to be working with The Open University to offer customers the opportunity to put Tesco vouchers towards higher education. The programme provides a great opening for customers to achieve some valuable qualifications by studying at home at their own pace without having to give up the day job.”

The Clubcard partnership is one of several projects to help OU students meet the costs of study. Student budget accounts allow for the monthly payment of course fees and – depending on the level of household income – financial help may also be available. In 2005/06, about 20,000 OU students received financial help to meet the costs of studying, including help to pay course fees and to meet study expenses, such as the purchase of a computer or childcare.

The Open University is the UK’s largest university and teaches 35 per cent of all part-time undergraduate students in the UK each year. Its undergraduate students are more satisfied with the quality of their higher education than those at any other UK university, according to the results of the National Student Survey 2006. Participating students gave the OU an average overall satisfaction score of 4.5 out of a possible five points.

At undergraduate level, there are no qualification requirements to study at the OU, and 33 per cent of undergraduates starting to study have fewer than two A-levels.

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