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    Annual Report 2014/15


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    Open University Annual Report 2014/15 3 again, while remaining in the leading pack in on retaining critical funding for widening England. participation In my new role as Vice-Chancellor I have Believing in a great institution doesn’t been incredibly proud to meet graduates and mean you are a member of a preservation hear their inspiring stories of commitment, society. I take inspiration from the daring and perseverance and ambition. It’s clear that the innovative thinking of the OU’s founders, now OU truly transforms lives, and delivers to the almost fifty years ago. We will need to ask UK the highly skilled work-force this country tough questions – of ourselves and others - to needs, without taking students away from the get to the right answers and we will need to workplace. It supports developing countries be bold enough to choose the path that truly too, in delivering the necessary education and delivers our mission. We must focus even skills to meet their challenges. more closely on student needs and deliver a We have cemented our position as a sustainable model to meet them, not just for leading research institution, with 72% of the the sake of our students but for the benefit of OU research submission assessed as world- wider society long into the future. leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*) As our annual financial statements make in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework clear, the continuing impact of reduced (REF) review of UK Universities. Over the last student numbers along with the likely further year we have determined our 2020 research withdrawal of direct government funding will strategy and celebrated our involvement in create further pressure on university budgets. pushing the boundaries of our understanding But I am confident that there are huge of the origins of life in the Solar System opportunities for growth if we can align our through our involvement in the Rosetta university to the needs of learners in the UK project, which successfully put a landing craft and the world. on a comet last year. We hope this will inspire The OU has so many of the assets needed: Vice-Chancellor’s thousands more students to engage with science – one of the UK’s key skills shortages. I truly believe in what the OU stands for brilliant students, talented staff, influential supporters and a spirit of innovation. Thank you for your dedication, interest and involvement Introduction and I am proud to have been passed the baton by my predecessor, Martin Bean, who led the OU as it responded effectively to the new so far. I hope we can continue to rely on your support, enthusiasm, guidance and ambassadorship over this next crucial year. funding regime in England. The implications of those changes continue to have consequences for the UK part-time sector, which has seen a he Open University has always put students first and in 2014-15 we have stayed T true to our mission. Tens of thousands of OU students completed their higher education journeys, helped on their way by the advice, inspiration and guidance of our Associate Lecturers and Student Support staff. In 2015, the OU was top-rated in 37% decline since 2009/10 – that’s 200,000 potential students who won’t benefit from the transformation that HE can provide. We continue to lobby government and policy the National Student Satisfaction rankings in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales once makers hard to address this in an environment of continued austerity, with a particular focus Peter Horrocks


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    4 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 5 Businesses turn to the OU to upskill staff W hether it’s a company with 10 (UKCES) finds ‘alarming’, given that STEM skills employees, or large multinationals, are crucial to business innovation and growth. organisations looking to develop Read the report: bit.ly/218koyp their staff have found the OU highly beneficial. The OU’s ability to tackle significant skills More than 1300 employers, from small shortages by upskilling existing workforces companies or local authorities, to government explains why the OU’s presence and departments and sector giants, including sponsorship at the annual Confederation of IBM, BT and the NHS, regularly invest in our British Industry (CBI) conference since 2013 courses. has become a welcome feature. Indeed, David The OU offers flexible learning solutions at Cameron praised ‘the great work’ of the OU in scale, responding directly to business needs. supporting the UK economy. In particular the OU has a growing reputation “It is a win-win situation, which businesses for tackling the talent shortages in science, really like”, says Mike Dutton, OU’s Director, Learning at work Image: Thinkstock technology, engineering and mathematics Strategic Planning and Resources. “One of (STEM) – addressing a skills gap that the UK the most attractive features of OU study”, Commission for Employment and Skills he adds, “is flexibility, which keeps time distance learning; in-company accredited “Had the OU not away from the workplace to a minimum, and course; or classroom-based provision. This existed, it would enables staff not only to work while studying, successful programme received an award but to put their acquired skills to practice and from the influential Nuclear Engineering have to be invented contribute to the business immediately.” International magazine in its first year. Award for UK businesses” OU in Northern The Nuclear Skills Academy, which has judge Ulrik von Estorff described it as “a very over 100 employer members, approached innovative and professional course with a Ireland the OU to develop the Certificate of Nuclear high involvement of the nuclear industry in its of the hospital’s patients. The solution was We hosted a meeting of the NI Professionalism to address the shortage of design”. an OU course, combined with tutor support Assembly’s Committee for Employment ‘work-ready’ graduates with the skills they The OU responds to demand from a wide and the hospital’s own in-house training and Learning. The Members learned needed, specifically around communication, range of sectors. It is already the UK’s largest resources. Jon White, Senior Nurse in Practice about our students’ experiences and project management, team leadership, provider for nurses and paramedics due to its Development said, “What we did was give sampled interactive learning materials, commercial awareness and some technical long-standing collaboration with the NHS. that experience to 50 individuals so that when better preparing them for shaping nuclear skills. A recent project, developed for and they came into clinical practice their voice was part-time higher education policy The Certificate is delivered across the with Milton Keynes Hospital, addresses the much, much louder. Their ability to influence in Northern Ireland. country via a number of flexible blended urgent need for better care for patients with and make changes and improvements was www.open.ac.uk/northern-ireland learning options to suit employers’ needs: dementia – a disease suffered by one in four considerably enhanced.”


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    6 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 7 that makes OU teaching effective. Part-time is sharing and mutual support are valued by often considered a solitary pursuit by those who employers as key employability skills. have not experienced it. Our Associate Lecturers Our students are encouraged through and subject-based Student Support Teams our tutorials, student forums, social media, provide frequent and timely interventions. closed and open groups, to join a vibrant They are also at the end of a phone call or an and supportive learning community. That email when students need them. encouragement starts as soon as a student We continue to innovate, not least with our commence, through our online induction virtual science and soon-to-be engineering programmes, and via the OU Student OpenSTEM Laboratory. Thanks to a £2.7m Association’s (OUSA) Student Hub Live and grant from the Higher Education Funding online Fresher’s week – initiatives developed Council for England (HEFCE), students in collaboration with OUSA over the last two worldwide will be able to participate in years. These include live-streamed talks, an enhanced suite of remote-controlled interactive demonstrations, Q&A sessions experiments using the most innovative remote and quizzes, supported by lively discussion in access facilities and industry-standard tools. social media. This will build on the successes of the We have also invested heavily to make the Wolfson OpenScience Lab, which won the enquirer’s decision-making process easier. 2014 Times Higher Education Award for Indeed, we won the Times Higher Education ‘Outstanding ICT achievement of the year’. Award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the A student engaging in an online tutorial @OpenScienceLab see: bit.ly/1dzj6XX Year 2014 for the new OU ‘MBA Explorer’ iPad OpenSTEM see: bit.ly/1Hmd0DI App, which provides a one-stop information centre about the OU MBA. The app includes Improving student tImely InterventIon We are now using learning analytics to predict which students are in need of advice on how to plan studies to ensure the MBA fits around a busy schedule. See: bit.ly/1l2y5oS experience additional support and when, resulting in proactive contact from an Associate Lecturer or the Student Support Team dependent on whose intervention is best suited to the doing so, it has become a world-leader in challenge. No traditional university is able to High student S tudents are at the centre of the University and its success is shaped by pedagogy. Our students are able to study in do this. Prof. Belinda Tynan explains: their experiences. The OU’s vision is to digestible, dynamic, bite-size chunks, testing bit.ly/1Pogo8v satisfaction provide every student with an outstanding their understanding and ability as they Student support and development in a The OU was the top-rated university study experience that maximises their progress, at regular intervals and informally. University environment cannot be entirely in the 2015 National Student Survey attainment, whilst upholding high academic They can study whenever and wherever they delivered by the University’s teachers. It is (NSS), in student satisfaction in standards. wish, on any digital platform, through our also delivered by the student community. Northern Ireland and Scotland, and The OU has pioneered the use of award-winning OU Anywhere provision. The value of subject-based discussion, tied for first place in Wales, with technology, initially focusing on breaking However, it is the combination of effective explanation, exploration and mutual support student satisfaction ratings remaining down the barriers of distance and scale. In use of technology and human intervention is significant. This networking, knowledge over 90% across the UK in general.


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    8 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 9 launched the first Badged Open Courses (BOCs), as well as delivering a range of new Massive free learning materials open to all and leading Open Online Courses (MOOCs), including some to a digital badge, developed in response to hugely popular ones developed at the OU. feedback from informal learners who are seeking Just like our partnership with the BBC, the ‘ to have their online learning recognised. rich learner experiences developed for our Our flagship project, FutureLearn has free and social platforms are brought back continued to flourish, passing the two million home to contribute to and inform our new learners mark and significantly increasing the list module development. We have kick-started a of academic and specialist partner institutions, virtuous learning circle. Life Story Image: BBC/Sophie Lanfear Changing perceptions ‘BECAUSE I can’ – these are the words of uses the OU’s Open Educational Resources Inspiring learning through Lisa Rowlands, winner of the 2015 NIACE Cymru older learner award winner, Lisa has since signed up for an OU open degree. effectively in widening access activities. See: bit.ly/1HmZora In England, using HEFCE funding awarded BBC collaborations See: bit.ly/1WcD00b Every year, the University supports thousands of people to realise that it is never as part of the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) scheme, work has begun to develop free online resources F too late to learn and study for a qualification. aimed primarily at those looking for part- rom the outset our BBC partnership educational exclusion on BBC 3. On BBC 2, In 2014-15, over 2,500 students took time, flexible study options, in particular has inspired members of the public the hidden world of Parliament was explored advantage of the offer of a free Access module unemployed adults or those in low paid, into higher education through its free in Inside the Commons, and healthcare as a first step into OU study. unqualified jobs. See: bit.ly/1PeWofg educational offering. provision for children was examined by For many, studying part-time is the only Indeed the partnership with the BBC the third series of Great Ormond Street viable option, as shown by a recent piece of continues to flourish. This year an even wider Hospital. On BBC 4 we delved into the History OU research investigating the experience of range of inspirational programmes were of Forensics and explored three giants of Part-Time learners and highlighting some of produced that engaged UK and international audiences. Our OU academic consultants ancient philosophy: Buddha, Socrates and Confucius, in Genius of the Ancient World. The the barriers they encounter, including the idea that HE study might not be for them. OU in Scotland have informed, challenged and engaged dark side of the internet was examined by See: bit.ly/1WcaZiU A partnership with Asda helped retail the production teams and in return the MCT’s series Cybercrimes for BBC News and, Across all four UK nations, the OU has a staff across Scotland learn to recognise programmes have delivered rich audiovisual internationally, on BBC World News. long tradition of working with trades unions, and assist customers showing signs of materials to aid our teaching and learning. educational providers and other agencies to dementia, improving their day-to-day Our programming covered big landmarks, From InSPIratIon to actIon raise awareness of our HE offer. experiences. This work received the from Life Story, The Met, and Richard Over 600,000 people were inspired by our Initiated by the OU in Wales and with ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Hammond’s Wildest Weather on BBC 1 to programmes and visited OpenLearn to explore similar models being developed in Scotland Community’ award at the Herald HE powerful series examining disability and subjects in greater depth. In 2014/15 we and Ireland, Pathways to Success (PTS) Awards. www.open.ac.uk/scotland


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    10 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 11 Class of 2014/15 – Generously truly life changing learning supporting education I he OU student cohort is unique – we T Dawn Faizey Webster was take students with no or little prior affected by locked-in n the last year, nearly 10,000 OU increasingly relies on voluntary organisations educational achievement (39% or syndrome after a stroke, alumni, supporters, trusts, foundations to support people in need across the country, more of our students enter with two A levels leaving her with complete and organisations have supported the the CVSL will help charities acquire the or less). 75% are in work when they study paralysis except for her University’s vision of a quality higher leadership skills and knowledge to navigate with us. Also 75% of our students tell us left eye. Her only way of education, open to everyone with the the complexities of the voluntary sector. that as a result of their course they have communicating is by determination to succeed. Donations totalling improved their career prospects and 88% say blinking, yet despite this incredibly difficult £3.4 million are helping take learning further InSPIrInG tHe neXt GeneratIon that the skills and knowledge they develop circumstance she obtained an OU degree. She than ever, creating free education resources Eric Tomney, OU alumnus, left a gift in his Will through OU study benefits their current areas is now working on her Masters. for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa, and to encourage students who share his love of work. See: on.fb.me/1NLSvFc funding research that will enable dogs to sniff of astronomy. The first student to benefit is It is also the case that the OU out the early warning signs of cancer. Jim Stanton, who is using the award to buy a amy Woolfson is an OU accommodates a large number of students telescope. Jim says, “I hope that Mr Tomney’s Law School graduate and whose circumstances make employment oU alUmnUS SUPPortS eXcellence In friends and executors will consider this a has been offered a place very challenging (learners in prison or leaving volUntary Sector leaDerSHIP fitting tribute to his commitment to the at Harvard University to prison; students with disabilities or significant A gift of £600,000 from Anthony Nutt is helping OU, life long learning and to astronomy.” study for a Master’s caring responsibilities) and for whom learning create a pioneering Centre of Excellence for To offer life-changing learning to more degree in Law. She is the gain has a more profound impact and broader, Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL). As society students, visit www.open.ac.uk/giving first OU graduate to be societal and community benefits beyond awarded a Kennedy Scholarship in the USA. employment. See: bit.ly/1nltiG5 tHeIr StorIeS, oUr Story Ian cox studied graphic THE Open University would like to offer heartfelt thanks to everyone who made a gift Thank You The people who tell the impact story best design and worked as an to the University this year. The following donors have made exceptionally generous are our students. Here are just three stories animator in TV and gifts in the past year: from the class of 2014/15. Our recent life- movies, before realising Aldgate & Allhallows Foundation Banco Santander Mr Howard Brown and l l changing learning promotion caught the he wanted to change his Mrs Elizabeth Brown Mr Richard Delbridge Esmee Fairbairn Foundation l l l interest of our students and alumni in social career. He later gained a The Exilarch’s Foundation GMC Trust Lord and Lady Haskins Inmarsat plc l l l l media. Do take a look at #OUthanks and degree in Psychology and John Ellerman Foundation Dr Ivo Kovachev Mrs Charlotte Leahy Mr Anthony Nutt l l l l see: bit.ly/1P5umn5 for more shared now has an MA in Counselling and Psychology. OPITO International PF Charitable Trust Share Radio Ltd Baron Thyssen l l l l experiences. When fully accredited, he intends to go into True Potential LLP University Book Search Mrs Rachael Webb Dr Charlotte Wood l l l l private practice. See: bit.ly/1nlSyav Mr Stephen Wyatt Yorkshire Adult School Union l


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    12 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 13 approach called “inclusive innovation”, involving Leaders in technology poor and marginalised people in developing their own solutions. Our researchers have enhanced learning found evidence that producing medicines locally in Tanzania means that they are more likely to reach remote villages. We believe that by researching and promoting grass roots innovation, the OU helps to reduce wealth his year marks half a century since in the coming years, as it has direct influence T Harold Wilson spoke of the ‘white heat of technological revolution’, a world with no place for ‘restrictive practices or on our student experience as well as provides solutions to global educational challenges. Through TEL networks and the production inequality and social exclusion. The OU’s research and practice in this area enables the development of a rich curriculum base which tackles global development issues outdated methods’. The Open University has of the eagerly awaited annual Innovating and is attractive to sector practitioners. Clean water will keep him in school pioneered the use of technology in pedagogy Pedagogy Report, the OU champions the and its leadership in this area was recognised adoption of technology into teaching and in 2013, when Her Majesty created the first examines many applications of learning Regius Professorship at the OU in Open Education, held by Prof. Eileen Scanlon. technologies, in particular the role of social networks of learners in education. Researchers from both our Knowledge Training new water experts reSearcH HelPInG StUDentS Media Institute and Institute of Educational The OU’s position as a European leader for Technology observe and create new best THE OpenWASH project aims to help save OpenWASH feeds directly into work by World massive innovations in learning technologies practice to inspire education and professional lives in Ethiopia by supporting sustainable Vision and UNICEF to support the Ethiopian was confirmed by its outstanding result in REF training sectors, by linking their involvement water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) Government’s goals to provide safe drinking 2014. OU research in Technology Enhanced at the OU and FutureLearn, with the initiatives. It’s a critical issue, with implications water to nearly 30 million more people, plus Learning (TEL) will continue to be prioritised collaboration with corporate partners. far beyond getting enough to drink. over 30,000 schools and health facilities, Pam Furniss, OpenWASH Academic many of which also need improved sanitation. Director, says, “Increasing access to safe water To find out more, visit www.open.ac.uk/ido and sanitation underpins improvements in Tackling inequalities globally health, reductions in school drop-out rates and greater productivity.” By equipping the people working on WASH SELECTED as one of the resources for hundreds of green development in Africa, projects with the complex skills they need, OU in Wales University’s priority research thousands of teachers in how to produce affordable they are more likely to deliver long-term areas our international India, have won recognition medical devices in India improvements for communities especially in We continued our highly successful development research has and acclaim. see: bit.ly/1mdmeyy, or rapidly growing urban areas. ‘In Conversation with…’ series, hosting long been renowned for its In addition to addressing how changing the habits Written by expert Ethiopian authors, Lord Neil Kinnock, Lord Dafydd Wigley, impact. Projects such as skills gaps in the Global of Western consumers can supported by OU academic teaching and former Australian Prime Minister, English In Action, improving South, OU research in reduce poverty amongst specialists, the flexible resources delivered by Julia Gillard. These events are open to English language skills of 25 international development workers in the clothes the project can be used for independent study the public and many are available to million people in Bangladesh, tackles other pressing issues, industry see: bit.ly/1k3Bwny on site or as the basis for classroom teaching. view on YouTube. See: bit.ly/1PPkooy and TESS-India, delivering such as how to encourage The OU is pioneering an Funded by aid from the UK Government, www.open.ac.uk/wales


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    14 Open University Annual Report 2014/15 15 Looking up and down I t should hardly come as a surprise that We will continue to be involved in the most space science has been selected as one exciting missions of our times, such as GAIA, of the priority research areas at the OU. measuring the positions of over a billion stars In the coming years our space scientists will in our Galaxy and beyond; EUCLID, aimed at undertake new projects, looking both up into mapping the geometry of the dark Universe; space and down on Earth. and BepiColombo, a mission to explore The OU will lead Europlanet 2020, a Mercury, to be launched in 2017. Welcome to a comet ground-breaking €9.9 million project, by See: bit.ly/1l290ng ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA sharing its own state-of-the-art facilities with Space research also helps us tackle challenges Making dreams researchers from all over Europe. As our space scientists specialise in designing, building and managing instruments, such as advanced on our own planet: we are helping to set up a 24/7 satellite system of monitoring volcanoes (See video: bit.ly/1nvbeln) and collaborating come true sensors, the OU is an attractive partner to other academic institutions and commercial partners alike. with commercial enterprises to improve cancer screening and measuring air quality in submarines (See video: bit.ly/1n1UW7t). n 12 November 2014, as part of the did not contain life themselves, they were O Rosetta mission, a tiny craft called Philae, equipped with instruments co-developed at our University, such as necessary in the formation of water and simple sugars. The success of the Rosetta mission has Researching today’s UK Ptolemy, made an eventful landing on the strengthened the OU’s reputation as one CITIzENSHIP and processes we are witnessing integration of their whole comet 67P, creating a milestone in the of three major space science centres in the Governance is an innovative and to provide answers families. See video: history of space exploration. It was a UK and as the go-to hub of space expertise research collaboration at about the significant bit.ly/1merDtZ personal triumph for OU space scientists, for global media, often demonstrated by TV the OU addressing some challenges we face. See Prof. Jean Hartley’s new some of whom had waited for this moment satellite trucks parked outside the Robert of the key issues in society video: bit.ly/1m5o4eB National Centre for Policing for 20 years, since the beginning of the Hooke building. See video on Rosetta: in the UK, and beyond. For example, Dr Umut Research and Professional project. bit.ly/1easp2r Brought together at a time Erel examines migrant Development will support And it was worth waiting for – the Ptolemy Whether explaining new images of Ceres of unprecedented mass mothers, who are often evidence-based policing team, led by Professor Ian Wright, have or Pluto, or the significance of the finding migration into Europe, seen as contributing to practice improvement, published the findings, based on the data of Beagle2 landing site on Mars, recent continuing upheavals in the societal pressures – a drain working collaboratively with sent by Philae, which pushed the boundaries interviews and articles by OU space academics markets, as well as changes on resources, but who are the force to test, disprove of human understanding of the origins of life have reached unprecedented audiences. affecting the institutions in fact best placed to bring or recommend innovative in the Solar System. Prof. Wright said that We hope they will inspire future Science, regarded as the bedrock of communities together. approaches and techniques the compounds detected by their instrument Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) life in the UK, such as the NHS Dr Erel’s research establishes and build them into their “would have gone into the mix that led to the students to come forward, meeting the UK’s and the BBC, the research that migrant mothers play professional development formation of the life on Earth”, and although insatiable desire for skilled graduates. is well placed to analyse the a key part in motivating portfolio.


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    The largest academic institution in the UK with 173,889 students of the 86 FTSE100 have sponsored staff on OU courses 90% of students satisfied with the quality of their course * National Students Survey Financial highlights 2014/15 can be found at bit.ly/1OBGvt5 Equality and Diversity FIND out more about the OU’s equality scheme and objectives: http://www.open.ac.uk/equality-diversity/ and watch the video with Jiten Patel, Acting Head of Equality and Diversity: bit.ly/1PzZJhh Council membership August 2014 – July 2015 can be found at bit.ly/1metezP Copyright @OpenUniversity The Open University is The Open University 2015 @OUBelfast incorporated by Royal Charter @OUScotland (RC 000391), an exempt charity For further information please @OUCymru in England & Wales and a contact: charity registered in Scotland Lucian J Hudson theopenuniversity (SC 038302). The Open University Director of Communications www.open.ac.uk is authorised and regulated by The Open University www.open.ac.uk/northern- the Financial Conduct Authority. Walton Hall ireland Milton Keynes Produced by The Open www.open.ac.uk/scotland MK76AA University with contributions www.open.ac.uk/wales Tel: +44 (0)1908 274066 from Luboxon Communications and Kelly Cooper Email: ow.ly/UwBMR communications@open.ac.uk SUP047591


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