11 Jun 2012

OU one of two universities to give evidence to APPG on Social Mobility

Rajay Naik

Rajay Naik

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility has invited The Open University to present its strong record of reaching students from disadvantaged communities to an evidence session today on Higher Education.

Chaired by Conservative MP Damian Hinds, the APPG on Social Mobility brings together parliamentarians from all political parties and interest groups to discuss the issue of social mobility and help to frame the wider political debate.

The Open University has a strong social justice mission and invests significant time, and resource, into recruitment and outreach to students from all backgrounds:

• 20% of the OU’s newest students are from the 25% most disadvantaged communities in the country*
• 45% have 1 ‘A’ level or lower at entry
• 14,500 OU students have declared disabilities
• 18,000 students have access to tailored Openings, Taster and Access courses which enhance access to higher education for individuals from lower socio-economic groups.

Rajay Naik, Director of Government and External Affairs at The Open University said: “The Open University is incredibly proud of its reputation for driving social mobility. We are delighted to have been invited to present evidence to MPs and Peers in order to share our experience of ensuring that all people, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to transform their lives through the power of learning. During this period of significant change to the higher education system, everything must be done to ensure that individuals and families are not dissuaded from study on the basis of their economic circumstances.

“The social mission of the OU is fundamental to our institution and something we hold very dear. We will do all we can over the coming years to ensure that everyone who wants access to high quality education is able to do so – irrespective of their background.”

The APPG also heard evidence from Oxford University in today’s session, as well as expert evidence from a leading academic in the international debate about financing higher education, Professor Nicholas Barr.

* The measurement is as per the Government’s National Index of Deprivation (2007)

Editor's Notes

About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 18,000 overseas.

The OU has been one of the top three UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2010/11 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 21 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 50 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, The Secret History of Our Streets and Empire.

About the APPG/the Inquiry
The APPG on Social Mobility brings together parliamentarians from all political parties and interest groups to discuss the issue of social mobility and help to frame the wider political debate. The APPG was formed in 2011 and the elected Secretariat is The Prince’s Trust. Last year, the APPG announced its new inquiry on social mobility. Upon launch, the Group stated that it would hold seminars and hearings with experts in the field to establish a set of ‘core truths’ which they hope will become accepted across the political spectrum, and can, in turn, help to inform both the debate, and effective policy-making.

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