In England, we are the largest provider of undergraduate part-time education. As is the case across all four nations of the UK, we are highly rated for student satisfaction, and through our scale and reach we make a major contribution to addressing widening participation and access to education. We work with employers in both the public and private sectors to address important skills gaps and continue to invest in new learning pathways for students and employers, such as higher and degree level apprenticeships as well as higher and technical qualifications. Our cost-effective model of flexible and lifelong learning is a key way for the UK government to meet the economic and social challenges ahead, equipping students with the skills they want and need wherever they are. Added to that, we continue to offer a wide range of free educational resources via our OpenLearn platform which extends our reach as well as local relevance via dedicated partnerships such as with the Department of Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus network.
The Open University in Wales is building on successive years of student growth following the introduction of part-time maintenance grants by the Welsh Government in 2018. We’re looking to become the provider of choice with employers, particularly in terms of health and education courses – as well as degree apprenticeships, postgraduate and continuing professional development. We work with many partners across Wales to help widen access to part-time education in line with HEFCW and Welsh Government aims. We remain committed to our social responsibility, and place a significant emphasis on equality, sustainability, and reaching more people through our civic mission work.
The Open University in Scotland is funded for the delivery of learning and teaching by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Each year we submit an outcome agreement to the SFC demonstrating what we deliver in return for public investment in line with Scottish Government policy priorities, particularly in relation to widening access, skills development, economic recovery and lifelong learning. We work in partnership with the education sector, employers, trade unions and community-based organisations to deliver knowledge and skills across Scotland. We have partner agreements with 15 regional colleges and we deliver a national schools programme in all 32 local authority areas which helps final year pupils transition to FE/HE study.
In Northern Ireland The Open University is working with the Department for the Economy and elected representatives to support the current Higher Education Strategy and the new “Skills for a 10x Economy” ten year strategy to identify how our model of higher education can continue to enhance the lives of citizens. We have enhanced engagement with employers, developed new partnerships with the further education sector, implemented a successful widening access plan and developed knowledge exchange capability – all of which are priorities in this strategic period.
In the Republic of Ireland, we have built strong partnerships with employers, like national broadcaster RTÉ, and with Enterprise Ireland through our innovative ‘Open for Growth’ scheme for growing businesses. We are well placed to grow our student numbers and to contribute to the University’s international work with Dublin as a base for our work within the European Union.