The Duke of York visited the Open University (OU) in Milton Keynes on 23rd May, 2013, to greater understand the university’s approach to distance learning, and join a discussion on how education can greater meet the needs of employers.
The OU is a world leader in modern distance learning, providing teaching and learning methods which enable people to achieve their career and life goals studying at times and in places to suit them. The OU is the largest academic institution in the UK. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has almost 250,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.
The discussion, facilitated by The Open University Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean, focused on the UK’s skills agenda and the work being done at the OU to equip its students with the qualifications and training they need to succeed, and drive economic growth in the UK. HRH found the discussion highly thought provoking and enjoyed hearing the viewpoints of the OU’s staff, current students, graduates, and industry partners. Attendees of the discussion concluded that educational programmes can be greatly enhanced through the contribution of businesses to curriculums and by offering practical learning experiences.
The Duke also got the opportunity to take a tour of some interactive exhibits which demonstrated how technology has been used to reach out to a greater number of students in the UK and internationally. HRH was particularly impressed by the OU’s consistently leading download position on iTunesU, and OU Anywhere, which makes OU course materials available on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.
The visit to the OU was part of The Duke’s effort to encourage and support providers of excellent skills and enterprise-focused education. HRH was invited to visit the OU after hosting a briefing in April 2013 at Buckingham Palace on Future Learn, the OU’s MOOC (massive open online courses), which will bring together a range of free, open, online courses from leading universities, in the same place and under the same brand.