My Journey to the Open University and Beyond


Patrick is a former OU student who has completed an Open Degree and here he tells us about his motivations for study.

This is a tale of two halves; the how and the why.

Four years ago my wife died after a long illness, during which time life was a struggle with little time for anything else. We lost our lives to palliative care. If not the carers then it was a posse of others with unheard-of titles.  Days, weeks and years went by with little respite.  And then she died. Suddenly I had twenty four hours a day to fill.  This is when a sad time was transformed into yet another wonderful gift from my wife. Continue reading

Different Perspectives: Exploring the big questions from different points of view

Andrew Webster is the Curriculum Manager for the Open Programme team. Here he shares his reflections on the Student Hub Live session, ‘Different Perspectives: Exploring the big questions from different points of view’.


The remote broadcast from Student Hub Live offered an opportunity for several Open Programme colleagues to discuss what they’ve learnt over the last year or so because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and why we need to look at the big issues from a variety of viewpoints to solve them. The topics covered were:

  • The environment
  • Food security and sustainability
  • Health and technology
  • Arts and wellbeing

Before the session, I considered some of the big questions faced both nationally and globally over the last year and the contrasting points of views from the media, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK and the rest of the world. Continue reading

25 Years of OU – 2019: The Open Programme

Professor Martin Weller is the Chair of the Open Board of Studies for the Open Programme which resides in and is supported by the Access, Open and Cross-curricular Innovation team in PVC Students.

My advice is have a Bryan Mathers graphic for every point you want to make.

In 2019 I became the Director of the Open programme at the Open University. The open programme covers our ‘Open’ qualifications, such as the Open degree. When the OU was founded, you could only get an open degree, there were no named ones. This was part of the deliberate policy to imagine a new type of university and education. The OU’s first VC, Walter Perry put it like this: Continue reading

Speaking about the bespoke: what the Open Programme offers students

Liz Vosper, an Open degree graduate and member of staff, reflects on a session which was part of Student Voice Week that explored what the Open Programme is; what it offers; how we create and support a sense of belonging and community; where to find resources to help; and how we can support students now and in the future. This session took place on the on 17th November, led by Jay Rixon, Qualification Manager for the MA/MSc Open. 

What the Open Programme is and what it offers

The Open Programme offers you the chance to study a range of subjects and create a bespoke qualification that reflects your personal or professional interests and aspirations. Think pick ‘n’ mix – you can savour the delights of the caramel swirl and avoid the coffee creams! Okay, probably not the best analogy I’ve used as it might need a little more thought than that, but you get the idea. And like pick ‘n’ mix, the Open Programme offers a great selection too! Continue reading

What’s next? The series finale…

Helen Cooke is a Senior Manager in the Access, Open and Cross-curricular Innovation team in PVC Students and responsible for the day-to-day running of the Open Programme. She is a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE, based on her work supporting multidisciplinary students in an online environment.

Way back at the end of March (remember those pre-lockdown days…?), our eminent Director of the Open Programme, Professor Martin Weller, sensibly suggested that we should run a weekly drop-in session for students in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19. Less sensible, we thought, was his suggestion that the focus of the conversation could be on toilet roll hoarding and stockpiling pasta… Continue reading

Pods, Blogs & Vlogs!

The session on 14th July was led by Jay Rixon, Senior Manager in Access, Open and Cross-curricular Innovation alongside our guest, Finlay Games.  Finn is an LGBTQ+ Youtuber, blogger, and Motivational Speaker and is currently studying Psychology and Creative Writing with The Open University. 

One of the blessings during lockdown is access to a wealth of information online. Blogs, vlogs, and podcasts can help us to feel connected to others, to find information and support, and are a way to spend our time. My name is Finlay Games and on the 14th July I joined Jay Rixon for an Open Programme student/staff drop-in session, to chat all things vlogs, blogs, and podcasts.

The session began with a discussion about what everyone was watching, reading, and listening to. People also spoke about how they discovered content, with some following specific people and others following particular topics. Continue reading