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OU shortlisted for UK Social Mobility Awards 2020

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The Open University (OU) are delighted to have been shortlisted in the UK Social Mobility Awards (SOMO) 2020.

The annual SOMO awards support social mobility by highlighting the work of organisations committed to bringing about change through social mobility. The Open University has been recognised for removing barriers to education, through our accessible online learning, innovative use of technology, pioneering scholarships and empowering apprenticeships.

Here are just a few ways we create opportunity and unleash ambition, helping more people pursue their personal and professional aspirations.

Leading the way with apprenticeships

Higher, Graduate and Degree Apprenticeships are a route into education that can transform the lives and livelihoods of people across the UK.

Upfront costs, incompatibility with employment or personal responsibilities, and an inflexible study schedule can prevent people from upskilling or retraining. This can trap people in work that doesn’t fulfil their ambitions or full economic potential.

Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to earn-while-you-learn, unlocking individuals’ potential without requiring them to put their other commitments on hold or paying tuition fees.

Open University apprenticeships don’t just benefit our 2,000 current apprentices. As the largest degree apprenticeship provider in England, we work with over 650 employers to help them build a future-ready workforce of highly skilled staff. Our apprenticeships are designed to meet employers’ needs and delivered flexibly to fit around business operations. Our online learning platform means training is scalable, can be delivered across multiple locations, and provide access to professional development in ‘cold spots’ where there is little or no access to FE or HE.

By providing high-quality work-based learning, we equip our students to apply their new knowledge directly to their role. Employers tell us this delivers immediate benefits to their business, such as access to innovation and identifying cost savings, as well as contributing to longer-term objectives including recruitment, retention and succession planning.  

In this way, our apprenticeships benefit individuals, organisations and the wider economy, embodying our social purpose and commitment to opening up opportunity for all.

Removing entry requirements

Unlike the majority of universities, The Open University does not have fixed and restrictive entry requirements for most courses. We welcome learners from a wide range of backgrounds, regardless of past educational attainment.

For example:

  • 13% of OU apprentices begin their studies without A-level or equivalent qualifications
  • 30% don’t have Level 2 functional Maths or English, or proof of prior qualifications at this level

We don’t believe that what you achieved as a young person should limit what you can achieve as you progress through life. We consistently see people who left school with minimal qualifications, excel through professional training, undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Find out more about our Functional Skills partnerships with Further Education colleges and for apprentices on OU programmes.

Supporting people with disabilities

The Open University is a popular university for students with disabilities, now with over 27,000 students declaring a disability.

People with disabilities can be excluded from educational opportunities for a variety of reasons: access issues, travel costs, confidence, support, physical health and long-term mental health conditions. Our pioneering technology creates an accessible online learning environment that enables people with disabilities to access learning in their own homes and at their own pace, with a specialist support from dedicated advisors.

This helps to provide disabled people with the skills and confidence they need to enter and advance in the workplace, contributing to both their employers’ and their own success stories.

In 2018, we launched the Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship to ensure veterans injured during or due to service were not left behind, and had the opportunity to retrain and move forward in civilian life. Over a hundred former service people have pursued courses with us as a result.  

"After being injured and struggling with life, I couldn’t see what my options were. The OU gives me flexibility. It also helps me mentally and with my disability. It works around me. The OU’s support is also great, they help with work placements and they try to accommodate your situation to help you learn to the best of your abilities."

The aims of the Awards

The UK Social Mobility Awards are about making the advancement of social mobility a key part of how organisations are run in this country. We firmly believe that, by raising awareness and celebrating the people and organisations that are committed to bringing about change, together we can year on year advance the cause of social mobility in this country.

UK Social Mobility Awards website

The Open University are delighted to have been shortlisted for such a prestigious award programme, from an organisation that so closely matches our values.

We know that education, professional training, reskilling and upskilling doesn’t only help individuals achieve their potential. It unlocks opportunities for business and the whole economy. With greater access to skilled staff, public, private and third sector employers can thrive. Something that benefits us all.

Are you an employer who wants to upskill your employees? Find out more about our Degree Apprenticeships.

Find out how we can help your organisation

Please contact us to speak to one of our business team advisors.

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