The Open University (OU) has appointed Peter Horrocks, Director of the BBC’s World Service, as its new Vice-Chancellor.
Peter Horrocks has been responsible for leading the BBC’s international news services across radio, television and online after a career with the corporation spanning more than three decades. He replaces Martin Bean, who announced in July he would be returning to his native Australia for a role with RMIT University.
Peter Horrocks joined the BBC in 1981 after graduating with a double first in History from Cambridge. Since then he has edited a number of the corporation’s flagship news and current affairs programmes such as Panorama and Newsnight, before moving on to become Head of TV News. In 2009 he was appointed Director of the World Service, overseeing a global workforce of 3,000 staff and delivering news to over a quarter of a billion people every week. During this period he has led negotiations with Government over future funding for the World Service, driven a 50% increase in revenues of BBC World News and BBC.com and successfully implemented a change programme to deliver content on all platforms, including TV and online.
Mr Horrocks will take up his new position on Tuesday 5 May 2015. In the interim, Professor Tim Blackman, currently Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Scholarship and Quality, will assume the role of Acting Vice-Chancellor following Martin Bean’s departure later this month.
Pro-Chancellor Designate of The Open University and Chair of the selection panel, Richard Gillingwater, said:
“This appointment is great news for The Open University. Peter’s impressive list of achievements, along with his clear passion for the OU made him the stand-out candidate in a very strong field for this role. Like the higher education sector, the BBC has had to adapt to new ways of working and funding over recent years, so Peter brings with him not only a wealth of relevant experience, but the drive, vision and intellect to lead the OU into the future.”
Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, Martin Bean, said:
“The OU is an institution of which the UK should feel rightly proud. It has been transforming lives for decades and, like the BBC, holds a special place in our national heritage. While I will miss the university a great deal, I am delighted that it will be in such capable hands, and I wish Peter well as he takes up one of the best jobs in the world.”
Peter Horrocks said:
“I have seen first-hand the transformative power of learning around the world, especially when coupled with technology. The Open University has been making a life-changing difference to hundreds of thousands of people by providing them, through distance learning, with an education that may otherwise have been unattainable. It is a profound honour to be joining an organisation with such an inspiring mission and at such an interesting time for the sector. I can’t wait to get started and to meet the staff and students who make the OU so special.”
Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, said:
“Peter Horrocks has had a long and distinguished career at the BBC. His intellect, integrity and leadership skills were invaluable during his tenure as Director of the World Service Group. I wish him every success in his new role as Vice-Chancellor of The Open University.”
Peter Horrocks’ appointment follows an open competition, which culminated in the panel’s decision going before the University’s governing Council body on Wednesday 10th December. The OU is the UK’s largest university, delivering quality higher education to around 200,000 students. The University has also been a key player in bringing together other members of the sector, both in the UK and internationally, to open up higher education through its social learning platform, FutureLearn.