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  2. We got it!!! We are joint-Winner of the Annual HESPA Awards 2021!

We got it!!! We are joint-Winner of the Annual HESPA Awards 2021!

Colourful cone pouring out stars and confetti with the inscription "Congratulation!"

OU Validation Partnerships (OUVP) is delighted to announce that The Open University (OU) has jointly won the Covid Response Award for its validation partnerships work in the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) awards.

HESPA received so many strong nominations for the Covid Response Award category that they had two winners for the first time ever! See the HESPA website for further information: HESPA Award Results 2021.

Dr Suzanna Tomassi, Deputy Director (Partnerships - Quality & Relationships), attended the award ceremony on Wednesday 23 June 2021 to receive the award on behalf of the OU. Her acceptance speech highlighted:

This award is a testament to the hard work that the OUVP team and OU academic colleagues have invested throughout the pandemic to support our partners. It means a lot to us and encourages us to work even harder.

The OU is the second largest provider of partnerships in the UK and abroad. Our rapid expansion in recent years with changes to quality assurance processes and procedures was severely affected by the restrictions and complexities of Covid19. The inability to travel significantly disrupted our approval processes, so a bespoke 3-tier model was developed to support new and existing partners. This allowed our partners to swiftly adapt and 90% of them requested changes to their approved teaching, learning and assessment. In 2019-20 we reviewed (often multiple times) 231 programmes and a further 194 to date in 2020-21, despite all the restrictions and reduced staff capacity.

Like elsewhere within the sector, we moved most of our events online which was a massive task due to the size and variety of our partnership provision. To date we have completed remotely 150 Exam Boards, 42 Programme Validations and Revalidations and 10 Institutional Reviews, Approvals and Reapprovals. Lessons learnt have been identified and utilised to proactively adjust our approach to support all stakeholders. We also shared our experiences more widely with other universities and organizations.

We would like to extend big thanks to all those who have been working in, and with, the OUVP team as this achievement is a result of hard work, effort, and commitment by colleagues across the OU. Under difficult conditions, we have collaborated effectively, developed and shared new skill sets, and proved to be flexible and innovative!