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Using open and distance learning to support the Sustainable Development Goals


The Open University has been committed to International Development for over twenty years. We are globally recognised for our teaching and pioneering research within the sector, and for driving innovation.

Uniquely, The Open University also helps deliver development programmes in partnership with governments, NGOs, funding institutions and local partners. Our programmes across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia address areas such as frontline health, teacher education and English language teaching.

We work where there is the greatest need: where our expertise can impact the many, rather than the few, and where our work helps create sustainable social and economic development.

Since 2010 the International Development Office (IDO) has been a hub for The Open University’s work on international development. The IDO brings the OU’s world class expertise in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to work collaboratively in partnership with governments, NGOs and funding institutions to deliver innovative, responsive, and scalable development projects.

The IDO brings together the work of academic experts and development specialists to uniquely combine the capacities to manage large scale projects, deliver life-changing teaching and high quality research.

Our teams work with partner organisations to design and deliver development programmes which result in change and achieve impact at scale.

Our current projects empower teachers, healthcare workers and higher education experts reaching over 2 million people around the world.

We work towards multiple Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the Global Goals) set out within the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

Projects are initiated and delivered in partnership with governments, selected peer NGOs, private organisations and academic institutions. We are a key partner in delivering a number of Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) programmes worldwide. With our partners’ support, we have developed programmes and projects which are recognised for their innovation and impact


Building capacities of frontline education workers

Providing large-scale solutions to build the core competencies of teacher educators and teachers, and working to support systemic improvements to all levels within the education system.

Building capacities of frontline health workers

Designing innovative learning resources for frontline health and water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) workers to support systematic improvements in quality and accessibility of essential health services.

Increasing access to higher education

Bringing solutions to the global challenge of creating and supporting equitable access to high quality, affordable and relevant higher education, using distance learning where appropriate.

Revolutionising learning in international development

Providing the international development sector with innovative approaches to learning to ensure that practitioners and volunteers have the skills they need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fundraising at The Open University

If you would like to support the University, and make a life-changing difference to our students, you can do so online. If you have any questions, please contact us at and we will get back in touch as soon as possible.