Welcome to the stakeholder newsletter from The Open University in Scotland
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We have seen a period of exceptional growth for the OU in Scotland, with over 20,000 people studying with us across Scotland and fantastic student satisfaction ratings. This makes us the fourth largest university in Scotland with our supported distance learning model more relevant now than ever.  

Registration is open for courses starting in October and as Scotland's economy and workplaces continue to change in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re also adapting by offering a broader range of shorter skills-based courses.

We’re working with the recently elected MSPs, providing our parliamentary prospectus which sets out our broad vision for Scotland post-pandemic and demographic profiles of the OU students in each constituency and region.

Best wishes
Susan Stewart, Director, The Open University in Scotland

Latest news

Pandemic sees growth in OU sign-ups

The Open University in Scotland has seen a 20% rise in student numbers over the past year, as the pandemic means more people are choosing OU online study.

The pandemic has significantly increased demand for upskilling and reskilling, and emphasised the value of high-quality distance learning.

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OU's unique learning has never been more relevant

Over this last year the OU’s unique and globally recognised model of supported distance learning has come into its own as we have all adapted to a changing world with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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New report finds SME leaders lack digital tech skills

A new report has revealed that 77% of leaders of UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have the skills required to successfully implement new technology into their businesses.

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The future of nurse education?

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many challenges to all of our lives, but it has also brought widespread public recognition to the nursing profession. The OU's unique open-access nursing programme is helping people to join the nursing workforce across Scotland.

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Community Councils skills

All community councillors in Scotland have the opportunity to learn new skills using free OU courses, through an online portal, developed by the Improvement Service and the OU. It includes sections on digital skills, business skills, finance and fundraising, and community and society.

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Celebrating success

92% satisfaction rate for OU in Scotland

The Open University in Scotland has achieved 92% for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2021. Susan Stewart, Director of the OU in Scotland said:

“I am delighted by this fantastic feedback from our students which reflects the sustained high-quality learning, teaching and student experience you can expect from the OU’s supported distance learning model."

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OU student entrepreneur tackling climate change on two wheels

Erin Charters, aged 24, from Loch Lomond, was inspired to start her electric bike hire business during an OU module on renewable energy.

The entrepreneur and mum features in a new ‘Ones To Watch’ MTV Generation Change episode with presenter Munya Chawawa. Erin says:

“My OU studies have revolved around climate change and other really important problems. I was able to show the local council that Cycle Luss was a solution to these problems, even though it’s on quite a small scale.”

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Jennie Lee Podcast Series

The life and legacy of the late great Jennie Lee, a founder of the OU, is celebrated in a new four-part podcast series launched by the OU in Scotland.

Jennie Lee was an MP before she was old enough to vote and became the first ever UK Minister for the Arts. 

Hosted by Lisa May Young, broadcaster, journalist and OU student from Fife, the podcasts include an interview with Heather Stuart, Chief Executive of Fife Cultural Trust (ONFife). 

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New Advisory Group Members

A new external advisory group has been formed to provide strategic advice and to form a high-profile group of advocates for the OU's work across Scotland.

The Scottish External Advisory Group membership reflects expertise across Scottish commercial and public life including education, business, parliament, science and culture.

The group is chaired by Scottish Council member Professor Paul Gray (pictured), an experienced public sector leader. 

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Event highlights

Edinburgh International Book Festival OU Events

The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2021 is on 14-30 August. OU-supported events at the book festival include: Booker Prize winning author of Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; author of bestseller What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition, Emma Dabiri; acclaimed Jamaican poet and novelist Kei Miller; OU honorary graduate and poet Carol Ann Duffy; and Scottish crime writer Denise Mina. 

The book festival is taking a hybrid approach, as all events will be available to watch online and some also have tickets on sale to attend in person.

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Behind the scenes - Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World

“Climate Change can seem to be this enormous thing, so unrelated to our day to day. That’s one of the things I was focussing on as a consultant for the Greta Thunberg series; how can the OU’s free learning material convey some changes we can make." said OU’s Dr Emma Dewberry, at an event looking behind the scenes of the OU/BBC co-production.

The free online event was open to everyone and featured OU academic consultants and BBC producers who worked with Greta Thunberg on the documentary series. 

Watch event now

Virtual degree ceremonies

Virtual Open University degree ceremonies took place online in May.

Karis Williamson from Inverness gained an OU honours degree and joined one of the virtual degree ceremony pilots.

Karis has muscular dystrophy and she campaigns on issues for young disabled people.

Read Karis' story

Students join a big blether

Open University students joined representatives from the OU Students Association and OU in Scotland staff for a blether via a video call in June. 

The Big Blether included insights into physical health and exercise and their impact on wellbeing, from OU public health expert Dr Jitka Vseteckova. 

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Student carers celebrated

We’re proud of our 860 students in Scotland who are juggling their studies with their roles as full or part-time carers. We celebrated our student carers on Carers Week in June, sharing how we offer them a wide range of help, including a bespoke information pack and a Carers’ Bursary.

We’ve also developed a free short online course to help staff at all universities in Scotland to support their student carers and we've gained a Going Higher for Student Carers award from Carers Trust Scotland.

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Edinburgh Science Festival

Two interactive online activities were hosted by OU academics at the recent Edinburgh Science Festival.

A mock election ‘Out for the Count: Mathematics of Voting Systems’ was led by OU in Scotland’s Dr Andrew Potter and ran for the whole of the festival. The activity explored how different voting systems can produce very different results.

Also OU mathematicians led a live online workshop on ‘Art in Mathematics: Tiling and Patterns’, exploring the maths behind patterns that are all around us.  

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