The Open University’s partnership with the Arab Open University (AOU) will see its first students graduate at a ceremony in Kuwait on Monday, March 5. Degrees in English Language and Literature, Business Studies and IT and Computing will be presented to more than 500 graduates.
About 49% of graduates are female, which means that the AOU has succeeded in accomplishing its mission to provide education opportunities for previously disadvantaged groups. Nearly 60% of the students enrolled are in the age group up to 24, suggesting the majority of students pursue education to establish their professional careers.
Commenting on the ceremony, Vice-Chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley, said: “Working in partnership with The Open University in the UK, the AOU has given new opportunities to many thousands of students, unconstrained by barriers of age, area or gender, and particularly to women students. By so doing the AOU has enhanced the career prospects and contributed to the skills base of one of the world's most important economic regions”
The rate of growth of the Arab population is one of the highest in the world, and by 2010 young people under the age of 24 will represent more than 55 per cent of the total population. Jane Gill, Partnership Manager for OU Worldwide, said: “Given the scale of the educational need, The Open University continues to assist the AOU in satisfying the high demand for tertiary education. The AOU has achieved accreditation from Open University Validation Services, which means AOU graduates will receive a UK qualification as well as an AOU award.”
The AOU established its headquarters in Kuwait in 2002 and proceeded to launch teaching activities in Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Student numbers have almost doubled from less than 17,000 students in 2004/05 to almost 30,000 students in 2006/07.
The Open University in the UK supports the AOU by licensing learning materials for three undergraduate degree programmes and consultancy to build systems and capacity to deliver a quality learning experience effectively at scale. Learning materials were adapted for all territories to meet the cultural and religious requirements there.
The Open University is the United Kingdom’s only university dedicated to open and supported distance learning. While it has more than 160,000 students in the UK, it also has 25,000 students outside the UK. The University’s open mission means that for most courses, no previous qualifications are required.
OU Worldwide is the international and commercial division of The Open University with a remit to deliver the innovative teaching methodology and learning resources of the OU to a wider UK and international market, often in partnership with other higher education institutes.