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The Open University (OU) is the biggest Higher Education provider in Europe, delivering teaching to over 2 million students in 157 countries worldwide. The University’s values-led mission is to be “Open to people, places, methods and ideas”. This mission is reflected in the institution’s: approaches to co-designing its knowledge exchange, evaluation and dissemination activities and outcomes; online learning platforms; research foci and collaborative approaches to engaged research, which include policy engagement.

The OU has a unique presence in all four UK Nations, translating in to close, regional policy-related relationships. Its Nation offices support academic teaching and research expertise across its four Faculties (Arts and Social Sciences; Business and Law; Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths; Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies) and two research institutes.

The OU’s longstanding relationship with the BBC allows it to reach millions of people worldwide via a huge variety of programs which draw on its research.

Areas of research strengths are:

  • technology enhanced learning and continued professional development for a multitude of professions;
  • space science and exploration;
  • international development and inclusive innovation;
  • citizenship and governance and
  • health and wellbeing.

An important area of policy strength includes Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) and technologies. OU research has informed the development policy guides for the Association of Learning Technology (ALT). ALT is the largest member organisation for educational technology practitioners in the UK with over 3500 members and provides an independent voice in the development of national policies related to OER.

At the Open University we combine our strength in online innovation with our research into digital pedagogies to create exceptional, learner-orientated Continued Professional Development offerings and policies. In 2018/19, almost 1.5k people from large organisations and more than 3k people from non-commercial organisations developed their professional skills with us. This type of work will be critical to post-COVID regional and national recovery policies and strategies.

Other areas of policy involvement include policing, road safety, female career development in technology industries, youth violence, open research and access (OA) development, and electric vehicle and greening technologies.

With over 1000 academics working at the forefront of new research and technology, the OU has the knowledge, expertise, and creative problem-solving skills to address challenges faced by people and organisations, large and small.

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