University Alliance is delighted to welcome The Open University

The Open University – which has been transforming people’s lives through supported distance learning since 1969 – has re-joined University Alliance.

Maddalaine Ansell, Chief Executive of University Alliance, said: “As an innovative university with an impressive record in delivering research with impact and high quality teaching, The Open University is a natural fit for University Alliance.

“We share a commitment to providing high quality teaching to everyone with the ability and aspiration to go to university – recognising that this is important for both prosperity and growth and for social fairness.”

Part-time study at university level has been hit by recent changes to the way higher education is funded – particularly in England – with a 41% decline in the number of part-time undergraduates over the last five years.  However, 90% of the UK’s current workforce will still be in work in the next decade, and it is predicted that over the next 30 years, there will be 13 million vacancies but only 7 million school leavers to fill them.

Peter Horrocks CBE, vice-chancellor of The Open University, said: “The higher education sector faces a number of challenges over the months and years ahead, and part-time study is far from immune from these.  By joining forces with like-minded universities, we can face these challenges together and build on our shared commitment to quality, innovation and inclusivity.  I look forward to working with fellow members of the Alliance to act as a powerful advocate for the benefits of higher education to individuals, our economy and society as a whole.”

Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance and vice-chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “This is a crucial time for the higher education sector – with challenges and opportunities, for us all. It is important that like-minded universities work together to innovate together, learn from each other and support every member to transform lives and deliver growth.

“University Alliance uses its collective experience of providing high quality teaching and research with real world impact to ensure our local communities thrive and grow.  With The Open University, we will have an even more powerful voice to advocate for excellent and inclusive higher education in the UK.”

Notes for Editors

University Alliance, Britain’s universities for cities and regions 

University Alliance brings together a group of universities with a common mission to make the difference to their cities and regions. We use our experience of providing high quality teaching and research with real world impact to shape higher education and research policy for the benefit of our students and business and civic partners. We innovate together, learn from each other and support every member to transform lives and deliver growth.


The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has around 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The OU is rated in the top ten of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2013/14 it had a 91% satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the latest assessment exercise for university research (Research Excellence Framework), nearly three quarters (72%) of The Open University’s research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available – and awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The Open University is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.

The Open University has been in partnership with the BBC for well over 40 years and co-produces around 30 peak time TV and radio series a year, such as Life Story, Secret Life of Books, Cyber Crimes, Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Child of Our Time, The Bottom Line and Inside the Commons.  Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes over 800 free courses on OpenLearn, which receives 4.5 million visitors a year, and materials on YouTube, Bibblio, AudioBoom and iTunes U, which has recorded over 69 million downloads. For further information please visit:

Further reading