20 Oct 2009

OU Vice-Chancellor addresses CBI Higher Education Summit

Vice-Chancellor of the OU, Martin Bean

Vice-Chancellor of the OU, Martin Bean

Martin Bean, the new Vice-Chancellor of The Open University today called on Higher Education to deliver genuine flexibility to help individuals, and employers, improve their skills. He addressed the CBI Higher Education Summit alongside the Rt Hon Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, David Willetts, Shadow Secretary of State for Universities and Skills, and Richard Lambert, Director-General of the CBI.

The Summit focused on how HE and business can enhance partnerships and deliver world-class graduates and discussed the challenges facing the sector in the light of reductions in government funding.

Martin Bean said: “The Open University has always championed high-quality education as a human right, particularly in a developed economy like the UK. The skills base of a country is the country’s economy, and traditional routes to HE cannot keep pace with the ever rising numbers of students looking to train, enhance their qualifications and often re-skill to match the needs of potential employers.

“A third of all UK students are now part-time. The OU is a powerhouse behind 21st century skills - 75% of FTSE 100 companies sponsor staff on OU courses and 70% of our students work while they study, taking their new skills straight into the workplace.”

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.

Martin Bean is The Open University’s fifth Vice-Chancellor and joined from the private sector with more than 20 years experience in training and education. He has held senior executive positions in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Notes to editors
About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the UK'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.
It works with many businesses and has strong industry partnerships. The OU’s Centre for Professional Learning & Development (CPLD) designs bespoke in-house learning courses for various organisations, including Reuters, Airbus and UKTI.

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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