23 May 2018

"Exceptional institution” shortlisted for Global Teaching Award

The Open University is shortlisted for the 2018 Global Teaching Excellence Award, with praise from the judges for its unique teaching methods, huge reach and outstanding student support. Described by judges as “an exceptional institution in many ways”, the OU is amongst 17 finalists from across the world, and the winner will be announced on 18 July.

Commenting on the OU’s entry, the independent judging panel noted the “excellent work this institution is doing, particularly in reaching groups of learners who would not otherwise have the opportunities that the OU provides.”

The Open University is the largest university in the UK, with 55% of its students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. The university gives students a personalised learning experience and helps them to ‘earn while they learn’- with 75% of students working either full or part time whilst they study.

Professor Hazel Rymer, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching Innovation) said: “We are at the forefront of widening access and participation to higher education in the UK. It’s our mission to enable educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.”

The judges were also impressed with the university’s ability to connect with its huge student body – of over 170,000 people – saying: “The sheer figures and dispersion of the student base calls for unique skills and processes in relation to delivery and engagement.”

Beyond its own students, the OU also provides free learning via OpenLearn, iTunes U and FutureLearn. And the university’s partnership with the BBC provides engaging prime-time content such as Blue Planet II, with viewers encouraged to visit OpenLearn to find out more and order free posters and booklets to accompany many series.

The Global Teaching Excellence Award is organised by the Higher Education Academy in association with Times Higher Education. On 18 July, the winner of the award will be announced at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh. Here is the Times Higher Education’s Phil Baty discussing the awards:

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