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Vice-Chancellor - Professor Mary Kellett

Mary Kellett
Graduate with family
graduate on stage with a scroll

Welcome to The Open University –  throughout 2019 we are celebrating 50 years of providing a learning experience like no other. You can read more about our planned celebrations and how you can get involved here.  Alternatively, if 2019 is the year to invest in you and your education, read more here.

Demonstrating how The Open University is more relevant today than ever before, Mary describes how the OU opened its virtual doors 50 years ago and how that door is open to millions of lives globally today. 

As part of its fight for part-time, and ahead of the publication of the Government's review into post 18 education, Mary's latest blog makes a clear case for supporting life-long learning.  The Open University has been calling for the UK Government to introduce a Flexible Learning Incentive to help mature students to return to study.

For 50 years The Open University has proudly offered open access education to all. Currently, 75% of our students are in part or full-time employment, with around 55% of our students coming from the most deprived areas of the country. It is imperative that the UK Government puts right the failure to tackle the alarming fall in the number of students in England choosing part-time study in its post-18 review of student finances. At a time of growing pressures in the labour market, part-time higher education holds the key to closing the skills gap which is hampering productivity.

Professor Mary Kellett, Vice-Chancellor

Mary joined the OU in 2001 and became Vice-Chancellor in April 2018. At a time of unprecedented change for The Open University, Mary is committed to listening to the views of students and staff; with a clear focus on improving student success and institutional sustainability.

Former Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education and Language Studies, among other senior roles across the University, Mary is also a Professor of Childhood and Youth and Founding Director of The Children's Research Centre at the OU.  As author of numerous study texts, Mary recently presented OU graduate Alice Yssennagger with her degree in Childhood Studies, a moment described by Alice as 'surreal and amazing'.

Prior to academia, Mary had two periods of professional practice; firstly as a children's social worker and then as a primary school teacher.

As Vice-Chancellor, Mary is the chief academic and administrative officer of the University, responsible for providing strategic leadership through her senior executive team, championing the interests of the institution at the highest levels with government, policy makers and funders, and ensuring the long term financial and operational sustainability of the OU.

Ask Mary to describe the OU…she would say ‘it’s a life-changing opportunity for millions; it changes lives in ways you wouldn’t believe’.

Away from the OU, her interests include travel, walking and spending time with family and friends.

Vice-Chancellor candidate brief

The new Vice-Chancellor will build on our remarkable history and lead the OU into the future. Making a positive impact on our academic provision, and ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive environment. Read the candidate brief.

Please note, the closing date for this role was the 18th February 2019

Vice-Chancellor's office:

Our postal address is:

The Vice-Chancellor's Office
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

Phone: +44 (0)1908 274066

Sue Brewster
Vice-Chancellor's Office Manager
+44 (0)1908 653214

For all OU communications, please contact in the first instance Director of Communications, by email