27 Nov 2007

The Open University joins Santander Universities

Professor Brenda Gourley, Vice-Chancellor, with Luis Juste

Professor Brenda Gourley, Vice-Chancellor, with Luis Juste

The Open University has signed an agreement with Abbey, part of the Santander Group, to join Santander Universities, an international scheme which already supports 575 universities in Spain, America, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom.

The agreement will set up scholarships for academics and students from higher education institutions in countries within Santander’s network to study at The Open University and participate in its International Fellowship Programme. The sponsorship will also support the introduction of the academic and international professorship programme in the OU Business School.

Professor Brenda Gourley, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “The partnership with Abbey and Santander is very significant for us. The Open University has students and collaborative partnerships all over the world and Santander can help us extend that network and reach even more people who can benefit from our provision. We look forward to meeting new partners and making our unique contribution to the network. It is also an opportunity to learn more, to share more and find ways to tackle the issues relevant to us all in a global society.”

Luis Juste, Santander Universities Director in the UK, said: “Abbey is delighted to welcome The Open University to the Santander Universities’ network. We share a common endeavour in promoting international collaboration and partnership for the exchange of knowledge and to enable more students and academics to benefit from the University’s educational opportunities.”

Photographs of the signing ceremony are available from The Open University’s Media Relations Office.

Information about Santander Universities

Santander Universities, pioneered by Santander, one of the largest financial groups in the world, is a scheme which establishes various spheres of collaboration including teaching and research, international cooperation, transfer of knowledge and technology, and new technologies, among others.

Since 1996, when it was created, Santander Universities has been the keystone of Santander’s Corporate Social Responsibility policies. Santander Universities Global Division has signed co-operation agreements with 575 universities in Spain, America - in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela -, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom. In the period 1996-2006, Santander has given 400 million euros to this programme.

Santander gives more support to the university community than any other bank in the world, with initiatives such as:
- granting over 10,000 scholarships each year to promote study, research and initial professional work experience,
- aid to 2,000 research groups and direct financing of 40 scientific research and humanities projects,
- 16 science and technology parks in different countries,
- 17 corporate incubation projects in five different countries,
- Santander has issued 2.8 million university smart cards in 173 universities, with a high level of functional and financial features for teachers and students,
- supporting Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library (, the largest of its kind for Hispanic works. Its website in Spanish is the most visited in the world (almost 450 million pages since 1999),
- supporting Universia (, the biggest university co-operation network in existence, that now includes 1,056 universities.

Information about The Open University

The Open University is the UK’s largest university and a world leader in distance education. 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. It promotes educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Through academic research pedagogic innovation and collaborative partnership, it seeks to be a world leader in the design, content and delivery of supported open and distance learning.

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