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Research is at the heart of our mission

The Open University is unique among UK universities in combining a mission to widen access to higher education with research excellence. Research and knowledge exchange is fundamental to The Open University's founding principle: to be 'open to people, places, methods and ideas’.

Our research underpins the teaching we deliver to some 200,000 students as the UK’s largest university. It informs the high-quality free open educational resources we provide to learners worldwide. It feeds into the TV and radio programmes we make with our partner the BBC, which reach an audience of 40 million viewers annually.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of Open University research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Our research is designed to have impact, influence policy and practice and change lives for the better. We maximise our impact through major collaborations with external organisations ranging from public bodies to third sector to business. Our research plan – Research Shaping the Future – maintains our broad research base, and highlights specifically our research strengths in:

Research Shaping the Future

The delivery of research excellence and impact is one of the OU’s strategic priorities. Our vision is for OU research to:

  • transform lives by meeting the challenges of the 21st Century
  • rank among the UK’s top 40 universities for research excellence
  • achieve global influence through open and innovative forms of knowledge sharing
  • continue to inform our curriculum
  • foster creativity and collaboration

Research Excellence Framework 2014

We demonstrated world leading research excellence across all 18 units of assessment that we submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014, as well as delivering impact assessed as ’outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ in terms of its reach and significance.

Awards and achievements

We provide excellent training and development opportunities for researchers at all stages of their career so that they excel in their professional areas. In pursuing this mission, we have gained a number of internationally recognised awards.

Image: Robert Churchill