06 Nov 2014

Open University warns of risk to UK economy of ignoring benefits of part-time study

British industry cannot afford to overlook the benefits of part-time study, according to The Open University, as new research shows the economic impact of the OU to be more than £3bn.

For the second year in a row, The Open University is supporting the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference, which this year is focusing on the need to deliver growth for all. With more than 70% of the OU’s 200,000 students combining their studies with work, the university is using the conference to highlight the benefits of part-time education to the UK economy and businesses.

More than 80% of FTSE 100 companies have paid for staff to study with the OU, benefiting from students being able to apply their learning directly to the workplace throughout their studies rather than waiting until they finish their course.

Commercial Director at The Open University, Steve Hill, said:
“As the CBI itself recognised last year, the skills gap facing the UK can’t be closed by traditional universities alone. More than 70% of our country’s 2020 working population are already in the workplace, meaning businesses need to harness this resource and help it develop now if we are to remain competitive in the global economy.”

The conference comes as new research by London Economics puts the value of The Open University to the UK economy at more than £3bn. The research, commissioned by the OU to support its business planning, also found that around 70% of OU students said their studies had directly increased their ability to do their job.

Director of Communications at The Open University, Lucian Hudson, said:
“The CBI is the voice of British business, and has a vital role to play in ensuring the conditions are right for our economy to flourish and grow. Making sure our national workforce has the necessary skills is a key part of this, which is why I am very pleased the OU – as our country’s largest university – is once again supporting the CBI to promote the benefits of flexible, part-time learning.”

Of The Open University’s around 200,000 students, 16,000 are overseas. Many major employers, including FirstGroup, Babcock International and the NHS in England have worked with the OU to introduce programmes for their staff which deliver consistent learning experiences and support growth. The Open University Business School’s MBA programme – which is celebrating its 25th anniversary – has provided practice-based learning to more than 24,000 of the world’s current and future business leaders.

The CBI annual conference takes place in London on Monday 10th November.

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