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08 May 2018

OU celebrates Charter Day – proud at 49

“I am the proudest woman on the planet – proud of this fantastic institution, proud of our dedicated staff and proud of our extraordinary students.” - Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mary Kellett

There is a lot to be proud of at The Open University, not least the success of our students – with some of them sharing their own personal OU stories at a special Charter Day 2018 celebration event.

Matt Georges spoke of how personal challenges and work pressures led to a breakdown. Contemplating his future, he decided on a change of direction to do something more specific – he wanted to become an economist. Having hated maths at school and given the subject up after GCSEsl, his OU degree in Economics and Mathematical Sciences opened his eyes to the fact that maths can be “serenely inspiring.”

To everyone at the OU, Matt said: “Thank you to all of you. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.”

Chloe Burroughs studied business with the OU, having left school part way through her A-Levels with low confidence in her academic ability.

She realised to achieve her dream she would have to learn effectively, and taught herself study techniques and ways to be efficient with her learning. As her studies progressed, Chloe found herself helping other students in Facebook groups and sharing her tips for success, which coincided with her entrepreneur module with the OU. This module required her to create a business plan and Chloe took the opportunity to stop her business idea being a dream and make it a reality. Her work on that module led to her setting up her own study support business, which now helps other students achieve their goals.

Chloe said: “The OU 100% changed my life. I turned my dream into a reality – a business helping students get the grades they want, for the future they want.”

Robin Kanjilal left school with a handful of O-Levels and saw his friends achieve degrees, improving their opportunities through education and hard work. In 2006, he started an IT consultancy and, at the age of 40, decided to embark on OU study.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Robin as he failed his Professional Certificate in Management twice. He decided to take a year off, but through that time, his tutor stayed in touch and convinced him to give it another try. He did, and passed his retake!

He then embarked on an MBA, but faced further challenges when his father fell ill. Robin relocated to India for four and a half months. Thanks to technology and distance learning, he continued studying. However, on his return to England he developed a neurological issue, which resulted in the loss of movement in his right arm.

Throughout these challenges, Robin says the Student Support Team went above and beyond to help accommodate him, ensuring he could take exams at home on his computer as he was unable to write.

Robin’s new knowledge was applied to his business straight away, with positive impact, and he says “from having little education at age 17 to having a Masters nearly 30 years later is an achievement my father can be proud of.”

Chancellor of the OU, Martha Lane Fox, was at the event and gave an inspiring speech about pride in our University. She spoke about her memories of her mother studying with the OU, and having to rely on her father’s cooking when her mother was away on a residential course!

With life getting more complicated and faster paced, she said the OU had a place in helping people build resilience and the capacity to continue learning. She said: “Everybody should be able to fulfil all the dreams they have…I feel so lucky and proud to meet so many incredible students who can take such pride in what they can achieve and do. That is the fundamental core of The Open University – enabling people to do more of what they want to do in their lives. There is no barrier to that at The Open University.”

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