Friday, November 10, 2006

I am sometimes surprised how little some people know about the Open University
This experience mainly applies to people I would expect to know better (they have usually been involved in Higher Education for some time but seem to have a very limited appreciation of the diversity of 'university models' that exist).

The OU pioneered supported open learning. It has a main campus at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, where about 3000 staff work. It has traditional academic Faculties such as Science, Arts, Humanities, Business School, Technology, Maths & Computing (the latter two are about to merge), Health and Social Care, Education & Languages. In 2004/5 there were 202,853 students in total of whom 162,966 were from the UK. There were 782 part-time and 724 full-time post-graduate research students among these. Staff numbers in 2004/5 were 1114 salaried academic staff, 1409 academic related staff, 1909 support staff and 7497 associate lecturers. Academic staff are engaged in teaching, research, administration and third mission activity as in other HE institutions.

In the 2006 UK National Student Survey a total of 95 per cent of the OU's survey respondents reported that they were satisfied or mostly satisfied with their experience of studying with the OU; the figure puts the OU ahead of all other surveyed providers. The average "overall satisfaction" score of 4.5 of a possible five marks was the highest of any of the 129 institutions across the UK for which the survey results have been published. The OU has retained the overall satisfaction rate that it achieved in 2005. The OU were also rated first for assessment and feedback (as we were in 2005), and third for academic support (as we were in 2005). More than 157,000 students - of whom 8,800 were from the OU - took part in the survey. Further details of the survey can be found at the Teaching Quality Information website.

The achievement of this level of overall satisfaction for the second year running emphatically demonstrates the quality of the OU's teaching and student support.

The Open University's commitment to broadening access to education is being taken to another level with the launch of OpenLearn, its major new open content initiative. The OpenLearn website makes educational resources freely available on the internet, with state-of-the-art learning support and collaboration tools to connect learners and educators.

This £5.65 million project, generously supported by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will cover a full range of subjects from arts and history to science and nature, at all study levels from access to postgraduate. Available to learners and educators throughout the UK and worldwide, the project will be of particular significance in The Open University's efforts to widen access to hard-to-reach groups and tackle educational disadvantage both within the developed and developing worlds.

On the OpenLearn site material relating to Systems can be found under the Technology heading.

No comments: