31 Jan 2017

Open University widens access to Higher Education in Africa

The Open University (OU) is widening access to Higher Education in Africa as it expands on its relationship with The Independent Institute of Education (IIE) in South Africa.

The two organisations will sign a Memorandum of Strategic Intent to explore the possibilities of ongoing collaborations including: expanding the integration of the OU curriculum into IIE qualifications*; and supporting IIE in developing the Higher Education sector across Africa. The OU has provided pathways for IIE graduates to receive up to 240 credits qualification transfer for almost a decade.

The IIE is the largest private provider of Higher Education in South Africa and offers more than 70 qualifications through DSSA, Rosebank College, Varsity College, and Vega brands. The OU is the largest education institution in the UK, and has over 170,000 students both across the four nations and internationally.

Director of External Engagement at The Open University, Steve Hill, said: “This new strategic agreement demonstrates the exciting opportunity the OU and IIE have in opening up access to Higher Education in South Africa and beyond. The combination of world-leading learning innovation from the OU and the long-standing local expertise of IIE will be of great benefit to students.

“We look forward to our continued relationship over the coming months and years, with the potential provide outstanding higher education to more students across Africa.”

Director of The Independent Institute of Education, Dr Felicity Coughlan, said: “The only form of international recognition that really matters is one in which we are able to continue to meet verified standards and can work with a partner to continue to develop the competency of our staff in the best interest of our students. A relationship with The Open University enables us to do this as it provides us with a robust platform to explore and develop our standards rather than simply a vague stamp of being “internationally recognised”.

“We are committed to developing graduates ready for a global career who are able to articulate academically and in the world of work – this partnership helps us achieve these goals.”


Notes to editors
*In addition, the OU may support the IIE in enhancing online learning curriculum development and design, drawing on the OU’s expertise in delivering a high quality student experience at international standards.

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 170,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.
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 latest assessment exercise for university research (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), nearly three quarters (72%) of The Open University’s research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available – and awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The Open University is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.
The OU has a 42 year partnership with the BBC and has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to co-producing around 35 prime-time series a year such as The Hunt, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, Full Steam Ahead and The Big C and Me on TV, and Inside Science, The Bottom Line and Thinking Allowed on Radio4. Our OU viewing and listening events attracted 250m people in the UK last year which prompted more than 780k visits to the OU’s free learning website, OpenLearn:
Regarded as the UK’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, as well as games, videos and academic articles and has reached audiences of up to 9.8 million across a variety of online formats including OpenLearn, YouTube and iTunes U.
For further information please visit:

About The IIE
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa’s largest private education provider. The IIE the largest, most accredited registered private higher education institute in South Africa, and the only institution accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK.
The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, Design School Southern Africa (DSSA) and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.
For further information please visit:

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