HRH The Duke of York at the OU
Progress in distance learning and innovation at The Open University (OU) aimed at tackling the UK’s skills gap was shared with His Royal Highness The Duke of York when he visited The Open University yesterday.
His Royal Highness spent the afternoon at the Milton Keynes campus to glean a better understanding of its scope and impact and to see how the OU is keeping students’ needs at the heart of its work.
The visit included an opportunity for The Duke of York to take part in a round table discussion, facilitated by The Open University Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean. The discussion focused on the UK’s skills agenda and the work being done at the OU both to equip its students with the qualifications and training they need to succeed and to be able to drive economic growth in the UK. Attendees of the discussion included Steve Hill, the OU's Commercial Director, Professor Rebecca Taylor, Dean of The Open University Business School and Rajay Naik, Director of Government and External Affairs at the OU.
His Royal Highness was also given a tour of some interactive exhibits in the OU’s Jennie Lee Building. The Duke of York met staff and learned how the OU’s global reach is being advanced tremendously by technology such as its highly successful iTunes U platform and OU Anywhere, both of which enable students to study practically and flexibly. In addition, His Royal Highness learned how the University’s research and design in teaching and learning is improving access to study materials for all its students.
The visit, conducted as part of The Duke of York’s work to encourage and support providers of excellent skills and enterprise-focused education, concluded with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in front of a small number of senior staff and former OU students. The visit was coordinated by Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications, and his team.
The OU is rated the top university for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. 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 26.7 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded more than 60 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.