THE OPEN UNIVERSITY BUILDS UPON DISTINCTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING MODEL TO CREATE VALUE FOR PRIVATE SECTOR

Interactions between Higher Education providers and businesses are measured for the eighth time as The OU highlights the benefits of collaboration

A report released today analyses the extent to which the UK’s well-respected Higher Education sector addresses business and community needs. The Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) eighth annual report is the primary vehicle for measuring the volume and direction of interactions between universities and private sector businesses. One aspect the report covers is the extent to which institutions are supporting continuing professional development.

The Open University, the UK’s leading distance learning organisation, is building upon its own distinctive educational model to develop meaningful collaborations with businesses.

The OU’s learning model allows employees to integrate learning and development opportunities with their working lives, providing companies with the ability to balance business needs and employee personal development. This in turn can improve staff performance, address key skills shortages and help businesses develop new talent.

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The OU has a long history of collaborating with key business players, to whom it has offered tailored services that enhance the workplace and help solve business problems, providing education for future managers and business leaders with the most up-to-date academic and work-based methodologies.

One example is the work that The Open University and assurance company Phoenix Group collaborated on, in the design of a Leadership Development Programme for their senior management team. Phoenix guided the programme towards developing an authentic leadership style focused on individual development, motivation and performance. The OU input their learning and subject matter expertise, as well as ensuring the delivery of a cost-effective, flexible learning model across their multiple sites.

The Open University believes that these interactions with businesses are particularly timely in the current climate for employers, especially those facing skills shortages and low productivity.

Steve Hill, Director of External Engagement at The Open University, comments: “Our work to provide continuous work-based learning stems directly from our awareness that the UK economy is suffering as a result of the widespread belief that education takes place in the first 20 or so years of an individual’s life.

“Instead, we see our role as a higher education institution as being able to provide the development opportunities that an individual needs at all different stages of a career. For this reason, we work closely with 2,400 different businesses and organisations to ensure that our courses meet workplace needs, delivering benefit for employers as well as employees.

“‘The wide range of qualifications offered by The Open University through blended learning allows students to study whilst in work. In fact, up to 76 per cent of all OU students are already in work, utilising their existing workplace as the focus of their studies. We are therefore in a unique position to develop academic courses that are integrated with business application, creating distinctive value as learners mix theory with practice.”

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