01 Oct 2009

Global business leader is The Open University’s new Vice-Chancellor

Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean

Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean

Martin Bean, The Open University’s fifth Vice-Chancellor takes over today following Professor Gourley’s retirement last month. Martin joins from the private sector with more than 20 years experience in training and education, and has held senior executive positions in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Martin Bean said: “The Open University is a truly unique organisation that has harnessed the power of technology and transformed the way people access high quality educational opportunities. Its mission and approach are more relevant today to the needs of society and the potential offered by technology than ever.

“There is a growing gap between an increasingly knowledge-driven economy and the numbers of people with the skills to succeed. In these economically challenging times, traditional routes to education cannot offer a dramatic increase in scale to allow for wider access. Supported open learning, which can be delivered by all kinds of media platforms, is part of the solution in both the developed economies and the developing world. The potential is enormously exciting.

“I am delighted to be part of the next generation of The Open University and look forward to the journey ahead.”

Martin Bean was General Manager within the Education Products Group at the Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington and is a recognised industry leader around the world. He has held executive management roles in leading organisations, including Novell Inc., Sylvan Learning Systems and Thomson Learning.

Martin Bean has been actively involved in the advancement of education policy and the reform of education to meet today’s growing need for more relevant, high-quality provision and innovative research. He was appointed to the government’s new online distance learning task force announced by HE Minister, David Lammy in June. The task force will advise on a wider strategy to help UK universities build on their existing world class reputations to access and engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future.

He has established and managed complex, multi-stakeholder partnerships in public, private and not-for-profit organisations and has a track record of growing or reinventing complex enterprises. He has presented to the U.S. Senate on the importance of ICT in the Workforce Investment Act and testified on behalf of the Workforce Coalition before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Prior to moving to the UK, Martin Bean was a member of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for Americas Graduates and was a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the Computing Technology Industry Association, chairing its Public Policy Committee. He was President of AIESEC International, (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) the international, not-for-profit organisation run by students and recent graduates.

An Australian by birth, Bean holds a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and now lives in Salford, Buckinghamshire with his wife and three daughters.

Notes to Editors
About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the United Kingdom's largest university and the world leader in distance education. More than two million people have studied with the OU since it began in 1969. The OU has more than 200,000 students in over 40 countries studying for a variety of degrees and vocational qualifications ranging from short courses to PhDs. 2009 is the 40th anniversary year of The Open University.
Independent authorities have consistently ranked the OU in the top five UK universities for teaching quality and virtually all of the University’s research areas have received ratings of national or international excellence. OU students are more impressed with the quality of their courses and the support received than those at any other UK university, based on the findings of the National Student Survey. The OU has been at the top of the rankings every year since the survey began in 2005.
E-learning – making intelligent use of media such as computer conferencing, email, CD-Roms, DVDs, the internet and of course, television and radio programmes – has always formed a major part of the OU’s courses and student support services, and the OU is regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution.

About the online distance learning task force
The task force is chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library and will work to ensure that our universities become the first choice across the world for online distance learning. The task force will advise on a wider strategy to build on our past and present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding and new markets. The task force includes senior representatives from Microsoft and Apple, HEFCE, JISC and Universities UK. The BBC has agreed to advise the task force as and when appropriate. It is backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world-class reputations to access and engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future.

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