One of the main functions of the Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships is to develop access modules and learning opportunities that provide preparation for our mainstream undergraduate programme. This programme is currently called Openings and comprises a series of short introductory modules for anyone who is new to higher education or who is thinking about returning to learning but who may not have studied for some time. The range of modules allows students to study a particular subject area at an introductory level and offer ideal preparation for 30 or 60 credit Level 1 key introductory modules. Each module provides activities and assignments designed to develop appropriate study skills and build confidence. The modules also offer an opportunity for students to assess their readiness for higher-level study and, if they complete a module successfully, students gain 15 credits at undergraduate Level 1. In 2012/13 nine Openings modules will be offered that will present in September, November, March and June. In 2013/14 there will be a reduced offer of five Openings modules that will only present in November and March. Whilst the presentation pattern beyond that is yet to be agreed, Openings will continue to be presented twice a year. Each presentation lasts for a maximum of twenty weeks.
There are no face-to-face tutorials for Openings modules (unless part of a special project); tutors provide support by telephone. For students in prison tuition is mainly provided by correspondence. Tutors are responsible for agreeing an individual learning plan with each of their students. Tutors provide written feedback and developmental guidance on students’ work. On all Openings modules, students complete assignments based on the academic content and issues explored in the module book, the online chapters and on study skills activities such as study planning and reflecting on personal progress.
Students can study Openings either as a stand-alone module or, if they are eligible, as Step 1 in the Access to Success Route available to students living in England.
In addition to Openings. in 2013/14, the Open University will have a new suite of three multidisciplinary access modules that will be an optional starting point for students entering the OU’s new qualification framework.