From the outset the OU has regarded access as a key driver in the development of our curriculum and student support.
All our programmes of study are designed to enable students to build confidence and develop study skills as they progress. As of 2009, as part of annual strategic planning, each Faculty is required to develop an action plan that outlines how it will contribute to widening participation. Some activity is already underway and a few examples are given below:
The Widening Participation Strategy 2009-2012 was approved by Senate in January 2009. It followed a review in 2008 of the University's widening participation action plan. The review took into account changing internal and external contexts, including funding changes, changes in the student body, the increasing importance of employer engagement and of elearning.
The Strategy emphasises the role of Faculties in contributing to recruitment, attainment and retention targets, whilst recognising that individual units will contribute in different ways to the widening participation agenda.
An underlying principle of Faculty activity is expected to be closer integration with regional and national student support services, marketing and the Community Partnerships Programme.
As from 2009 each Faculty is required to develop an annual action plan setting out the contribution it will make to the University's widening participation objectives for recruitment, retention and attainment in delivering its courses and programmes. It is recognised that Faculty contributions will differ, and depend to some extent on the nature of the curriculum, pathways and qualifications that they support. Plans should look ahead over the next three years.
As well as supporting widening participation through the curriculum, the University is also developing the support we offer our students. For example: