Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. About
  3. Strategy and policy
  4. Widening access and success

Widening access and success

Two adults looking at an electronic deviceWe support people from communities across Scotland to access higher education to help them improve their life opportunities and succeed in their ambitions.

The OU is open to everyone, regardless of age, income, geography and background. Our open admissions policy means no formal entry requirements are needed for most undergraduate qualifications or modules, and many of our new undergraduates join us without standard university entrance level qualifications. 

Working with our partners, from employers and trade unions, to schools and voluntary sector groups, we are at the forefront of using innovative distance education to deliver supported learning to a wide range of people, at every stage of their lives. 

A key focus of our work is ensuring that people from Scotland’s most disadvantaged groups and communities can all access higher education to help improve their work and life opportunities. We work in partnership with many third sector organisations to reach people from the most deprived areas, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, carers, ethnic minority groups, and people with care experience. 

40% of OU undergraduates are based in Scotland’s most deprived areas, according to The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) which looks at the extent to which an area is deprived across seven areas: income, employment, education, health, access to services, crime and housing. In 2020/21, 74% of our new undergraduates earn less than £25,000 and are eligible for part-time fee grant, 24% of our new students have declared a disability, and almost a quarter live in remote and rural parts of Scotland.

Student success

We embed support into our curriculum design and delivery at every stage of the student’s learning journey and our research shows that access to learning has significant human impact, helping people improve their job satisfaction, self-esteem and general quality of life. Most OU alumni (94%) say that studying with us has improved at least one aspect of their personal development and 86% say study has led to an improvement in their personal wellbeing.

Driving student success is a key priority and we do by:

  • understanding 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 in the Open University's Access, Participation and Success Plan

Mental health and wellbeing

A culture that enables our students, and our staff, to flourish is central to all we do. We believe that everyone has a responsibility for actively supporting mental health and wellbeing, whether their own or that of others.

To support this, we have a whole institution approach to mental health with a combined strategy which applies to all staff and students. It was developed in line with the Universities UK (2017) Stepchange framework for mental health in higher education. 

The OU's Student and Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2023 (.pdf)

We have also developed a Student Mental Health Agreement in partnership with the OU Students Association and with support from the National Union of Students Scotland’s Think Positive project.

It sets out our joint commitment to work together to promote the mental wellbeing of our students.

The Open University in Scotland’s Student Mental Health Agreement 2021-2023 (.pdf - full version)

The Open University in Scotland’s Student Mental Health Agreement 2021-2023 Summary (.pdf)