28 Nov 2014

The Open University’s virtual laboratory achieves success at Times Higher Awards

OSL team

OSL team

The Open University’s innovative OpenScience Laboratory (OSL) was among the winners at The Times Higher Education Awards in London last night.
The OSL was announced winner in the Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year category, beating off stiff competition from five other universities across the UK.

The OSL is a platform for online practical science which enables remote observations and manipulation or control of experiments via the internet. Students can access interactive data for coursework through realistic online multimedia.

OU Science students are also able to do practical work in OSL's virtual laboratory space. The virtual lab also equips students with 21st century professional skills, such as the operation of equipment “at a distance” and being able to remotely control measurement systems like earth-monitoring satellites.

The OpenScience Lab, generously supported by The Wolfson Foundation, began as an initiative in April 2012 to broaden access to the cutting edge of practical science learning. It was launched at The Royal Society in July 2013.

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: "This is an outstanding achievement for all those involved and the University as a whole. Ever since the OU was founded over four decades ago, we have been striving to deliver an exceptional student experience while harnessing the very latest technological developments. This award is testament to the hard work and vision of all those who work in this amazing institution."

The awards – now in their 10th year - were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel and attract a very high calibre of nominations across 18 categories. The Open University was also short-listed in the following categories: Business School of the Year; Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year and Outstanding Support for Students.


Notes to Editors:
Find out more about the Open Science Laboratory:

Find out more about The Times Higher Awards:

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 around 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The OU is rated in the top ten of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2013/14 it had a 91% 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.

The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC and has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to co-producing prime-time series such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, Britain’s Great War, I Bought a Rainforest and Business Boomers. 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 66 million downloads.

For further information please visit:

Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation ( is a charity that was established in 1955. The Wolfson Foundation supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health & disability, education and the arts & humanities. All funding is based on expert peer review. Over £750 million (£1.2 billion in real terms) has been awarded in grants to some 10,000 projects over the last 58 years. - See more at:

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