06 Dec 2013

OU pays tribute to Honorary Doctor Nelson Mandela for his virtue and values

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

The Open University (OU) pays tribute today to former South African President Nelson Mandela, remembering his life and legacy across the world.

The OU awarded Mr Mandela an Honorary Doctorate in 2004. The award was conferred in Cape Town, South Africa by the then Vice-Chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley and Baroness Boothroyd, former Chancellor of The Open University. Nelson Mandela’s high regard for education and how it could empower lives was praised by Professor Gourley as well as his “passion, morality and humanity”.

Speaking today Martin Bean, current Vice-Chancellor of The Open University said: “Nelson Mandela was a towering international figure who embodied the principles of social justice, equality and opportunity. These are values that lie at the very heart of the Open University, which is why we awarded Mr Mandela an Honorary Doctorate in 2004 and why we are adding our voice to the countless tributes rightly being paid to this great man around the world.”

The OU has been teaching in South Africa since 1997. It runs the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa programme (TESSA). Established in 2005, this is a resource bank of teacher education materials, which is transforming the education of primary and secondary school teachers across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Open University also launched HEAT in early 2011, an accelerated and scalable Healthcare Education and Training programme for frontline healthcare workers in Africa, providing them with vital healthcare skills and the potential to save millions of lives.

Photograph shows Nelson Mandela with former Vice-Chancellor Brenda Gourley and former Chancellor Baroness Boothroyd

Notes to Editors:

Carol Komoromy, Senior Lecturer in Health Studies, has researched how people can grieve for iconic figures even though they have no personal relationship with them and probably will never have met them.

Her knowledge stems from work on modules covering death and dying, which is also an area of research for Carol. She is a core member of the Birth and Death research group and a member of the international Association for the Study of Death and Society and co-editor of the international journal of death studies, Mortality.

Carol says: Grieving for someone with whom we do not have a personal relationship – someone we might not even have met – is not grief for a real person as much as what they stand for. In that sense the relationship is an imagined one – even though the grief might be felt very deeply.”

Open University Honorary Graduates

The Open University’s Charter includes provision for the Senate to award the Honorary Degrees of Doctor of the University. Individuals are nominated for these distinctions by members of the University and these are recommended to the Senate by the Honorary Degrees Committee which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. There are eight broad criteria within which nominations can be considered.

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 1.8 million students and has over 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.
The OU is rated in the top five of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2012/13 it had a 92% 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 received 5.2million unique visitors in 2012/13, 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.

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