13 Dec 2012

MPs learn how The Open University can transform lives for the better

Over 150 cross-party MPs and peers; honorary graduates; and charity partners last night attended an invite-only reception at the residence of the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, in Westminster to learn about the University’s impact on promoting learning and contributing to economic growth.

Guests heard how The Open University (OU)’s open and flexible methods of learning are driving social mobility, particularly among lower socio-economic groups in the area. They also heard that four out of five FTSE100 companies have sponsored staff on OU courses, how the University supports 17,000 students with declared disabilities, and why the OU tops the National Student Satisfaction survey.

The Vice-Chancellor explained how The Open University has more than 250,000 students currently studying with them and explained how the OU’s ‘open to all’ policy is truly life changing, providing the power of learning to enable people to fulfil their ambitions. He also highlighted how many students are able to be in full-time employment while they study, due to loans are now being available for part-time study.

Speaking after the event, Martin Bean said: “We are grateful for all the support so many parliamentarians give to the OU. The OU operates across the UK – and indeed the world – yet is everyone’s local university. We are proud to have inspired millions of people to take up study, whatever their background. We will continue with that work, which has grown even more important in today’s tough economic climate, where the importance of education for the UK’s workforce is greater than ever.”


Notes to editors

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 almost 1.8 million students and has more than 250,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.

The OU came top for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey this year, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2011/12 it had a 93% 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 OU 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 25 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 56 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, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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