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Strategy and policy

The Open University is Scotland’s most popular provider of part-time higher education, accounting for almost 60% of all undergraduates studying part-time.

It is our responsibility to advocate on behalf of our students, and part-time students generally, to make sure that their needs and interests are taken into account in higher education policy and by decision-makers.

We work with:First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Part-time study widens access to higher education and makes an immediate economic impact. 18% of our new undergraduates join the OU in Scotland without standard university entrance qualifications.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP is pictured (above right) speaking at a reception in the Scottish Parliament, in April 2019, to mark the OU's 50th anniversary.


19% of new undergraduates live in Scotland's 20% most disadvantaged areas - stat graphic
Stat graphic: We consistently score highly for student satisfaction - 91.5% average over 10 years - National Student Survey (2011-2020)

The map below shows the numbers of OU in Scotland students by Scottish Parliamentary region.

Stat graphic: Number of students by Scottish Parliamentary region


In May 2017, OU in Scotland Director Susan Stewart welcomed delegates from more than 30 organisations to a seminar in Glasgow, to discuss the place of adult learning in widening access to higher education in Scotland. Keynote speaker was Professor Sir Peter Scott, Fair Access Commissioner of the Scottish Government. Hear from Professor Scott by watching the video below.


Consultation responses

Strategic Plan to 2021/22 shield graphicRead our consultation responses and briefing papers.


Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan to 2021/22 provides a clear direction for the coming years and sets out how we will build on 50 years of success to reach more students with life-changing learning. 

The OU is committed to promoting educational opportunity and social justice through our innovative supported open learning, underpinned by world-class academic research.

Click on the shield image, right, to enlarge it.

Student success

The Open University’s key strategic priority is student success.

Through our scale, reach and our ability to support students to succeed we achieve a positive impact on society and the economy. This includes:
  • Smarti Reel and Parminder Singh Reel on graduation dayunderstanding our students’ study goals and ensuring they get onto the right study path at the right level
  • supporting our students to successfully progress through and complete their chosen module(s) or qualification
  • delivering a high quality and flexible student experience with high levels of student satisfaction
  • supporting students to achieve positive career and personal development outcomes.
Read more about the related objectives which underpin our focus on student success.

The Open University's Annual Report

Read The Open University's interactive Annual Report 2018/19.

OU in Scotland Outcome Agreement

Outcome agreements set out what universities plan to deliver in return for their funding from the Scottish Funding Council. Their focus is on the contribution that universities make towards improving life chances, supporting world-class research and creating sustainable economic growth for Scotland.

The OU’s Student and Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2023

At The Open University we recognise that mental health and wellbeing impacts all aspects of our lives. This Student and Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy has been developed in line with the Universities UK (2017) Stepchange framework for mental health in higher education. It applies to all OU staff and students.

The OU in Scotland’s Student Mental Health Agreement

The Open University in Scotland is committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff. We have developed our Student Mental Health Agreement (SMHA) in partnership with the OU Students Association, with support from the National Union of Students Scotland’s Think Positive project.

It is in line with the OU Student and Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, setting out our joint commitment to work together to promote the mental wellbeing of our students.

Footnote: The proportion of part-time undergraduates is based on 2018-19 HESA data.

Contact us:

Jane Ferguson
Assistant Director (Communications, Public Affairs and Policy)

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