Meet our Prosperity partner: The Open University in Wales

Open University in Wales logo“Like the Bevan Foundation, the OU is working to make Wales a fairer and more prosperous place.”

About the Open University in Wales

The Open University (OU) in Wales is the leading provider of part-time undergraduate higher education and supported distance learning across Wales. It is a world leader in providing innovative and flexible supported distance learning opportunities at higher education level.

Over 11,000 students are currently studying with the OU in Wales and with students in every Senedd constituency the OU is everyone’s local university. The OU in Wales is part of The Open University, which operates across all four nations of the UK.

In 2019, the OU marked its 50th birthday. Although teaching methods have changed considerably since 1969 the OU’s mission remains as it was back then – to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Anyone, anywhere, can study with the OU. All you need is the desire to learn.

How the OU is working towards prosperity 

The OU’s unique teaching method enables those who may never previously have considered higher education, or those with work or caring commitments, to be able to achieve and prosper. The supported distance learning model of the OU is designed to be different from campus-based learning, and to help learners progress with confidence.

Widening participation in higher education: No formal qualifications are needed for most OU study. The concept of widening participation in higher education is at the core of the OU’s work. The OU in Wales has seen a huge rise in the number of students from the most deprived communities in Wales choosing to study with them since the Welsh Government’s reforms to the student finance system – almost half all its new students come from these communities.

Flexible, supported learning: You can study with the OU anywhere and at any time making, which is ideal for those with work or caring responsibilities, or those who don’t have higher education provision in their community. The OU is also able to support carers and disabled students, so that they feel supported while studying at their own pace. In fact, the number of new disabled students choosing to study with the OU in Wales has increased by almost 100% in the last two years.

Learn while you earn: OU study enables people to upskill or reskill, and to study while they’re working in order to get a promotion or prepare themselves for a career change. Over 150 companies in Wales sponsor their staff to study with the OU and courses range from business administration to social work and from nursing to computing and IT.

Free online learning: OpenLearn is the OU’s free learning platform containing a wide range of courses and interactive learning opportunities. Whether it’s a 5-minute exploration or a 24-hour expedition into learning that you’re after, you’ll find it on OpenLearn for free.

You will find almost 1,000 free courses, topical and interactive content, videos and online games on OpenLearn You can also find a selection of Welsh-medium and Wales-interest courses and content on OpenLearn Cymru and OpenLearn Wales.

Hot topics


Social mobility: The OU in Wales is a movement for social change, and is passionate about education as a vehicle for social mobility. Like the Bevan Foundation, the OU is working to make Wales a fairer and more prosperous place by opening up education and removing barriers to participation in learning. The OU is keen to hear from any community groups, organisations or partners who would like to work with them on this.

Degree Apprenticeships: The OU in Wales offers a Degree Apprenticeship in Software Engineering. This is a fantastic opportunity for employers to offer a fully-funded apprenticeship through a flexible and supported learning model and is built on considerable experience gained by the university in England and in Scotland. The OU is hoping to expand its degree apprenticeships offer in the coming years as one way to support skills development in Wales.

Working with schools and colleges: From autumn 2020, the OU will be offering new part-time PGCE routes into teaching – both for those already working in schools (salaried route) and those looking to change career paths (part-time route). The course is designed around the new curriculum, can be learned in either language, and on completion, you will be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status.

To find out more about the Open University in Wales, please visit their website or follow them on Twitter @OUCymru or Facebook @openuniversitywales

The Bevan Foundation is delighted to be working in partnership with the Open University in Wales towards greater prosperity in Wales.

Watch the recording of our joint webinar from 21st May 2020 on ‘Learning for life – in lockdown and beyond’ – Or download a write-up of the discussion.


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