Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Pandemic sees growth in OU study sign-up

Pandemic sees growth in OU study sign-up

Woman with laptop. Photo by Surface.

The Open University in Scotland has seen a rise in its student numbers by a fifth over the past year, as the pandemic means more people are choosing OU online study. 

The University cites the impact of Covid-19 as the main driver of the increase; it has significantly increased the demand for upskilling and reskilling and has emphasised the attractiveness of high-quality distance learning. 

In terms of actual student numbers across Scotland, the total number of all students for 2020/21 is up 20% on last year to over 21,000 (including undergraduates, postgraduates, and apprenticeships, but excluding degrees validated with partner providers). 

The total number of new students registering with the OU in the past year is over 9,000, compared to nearly 7,000 in 2019/20.

Students are based in every Scottish parliamentary constituency from the Shetland Isles to Dumfries and Galloway. 85% of OU graduates remain in the location where their study was undertaken, retaining their talent and skills in those communities.

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

“We are very heartened with this growth, which shows students continuing to make a clear choice to study with the OU in what has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. 

“Given the impact of the pandemic, we are not complacent about this rise in numbers and are very conscious that many of our students are beginning their courses in a more unpredictable environment. Many juggle work, caring responsibilities and family commitments as they begin their study.

"The OU in Scotland has already been responsive to the pandemic by offering funded skills modules to those affected by furlough, redundancy, or sector transformation. As well as these targeted courses for individuals and businesses, we have also experienced unprecedented interest in accessing our free learning platforms as people look to re-position for work in a future economy.

“With uncertainty in the economy set to continue into 2021, more agile provision, open to people at all stages of life and delivered flexibly will be an essential part of Scotland’s recovery.”

There is more information about how we are supporting individuals, businesses and communities across Scotland on our Upskilling Scotland webpage. 

Photo by Surface. 


'Business Barometer Report 2021'

Mind the Skills Gap

The Open University’s Business Barometer report reveals a lack of specialist entry-level talent in Scotland. More than half of Scotland's business leaders believe that work-based learning is critical to their long-term success.

7th October 2021
Three people at a desk with computers

OU training for Scotland's small & medium businesses

Small and medium-sized enterprises across Scotland can access fully funded training up to the value of £5,000, delivered by the OU, to support the development of their staff and volunteers. 

30th August 2021
See all

Media contacts

Media enquiries
OU in Scotland Media Relations
Call 0131 549 7986

OU UK Press Office:
Call 01908 654316

07901 515 891

Visit our OU UK news site
Sign up for Scottish media releases


Sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter, Open Outlook. 

Subscribe for Newsletter