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by Susan Stewart, The Open University (Scotland)
17 November 2021
Associate Feature: Delivering life-changing learning to people across Scotland

Associate Feature: Delivering life-changing learning to people across Scotland

Lifelong Learning is back in vogue! At least that what it feels like after the Scottish Government accepted ‘the development of shorter, sharper courses to support learning throughout life’ as part of its response last month to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) ‘Review of Tertiary Education and Research in Scotland’.

At The Open University in Scotland lifelong learning has never been out of vogue, indeed it is at the heart of our mission to open up education and lifelong learning to all our citizens, and to be a movement for change. For fifty-two years, we have helped people across Scotland to develop their knowledge, acquire new skills and achieve life-changing qualifications wherever they live.

Our supported, personalised, distance learning model is a proven way of delivering at a national level yet sustaining local needs; 85% of our graduates remain in the location where their study was undertaken, retaining their talent and skills in those, often rural and remote, communities.

We responded rapidly in supporting businesses, workers, families and communities during the pandemic through our online platforms and flexible learning opportunities. Like everybody else we had to adjust as switched from in-person to virtual graduation ceremonies. Although you miss the energy, the enormous sense of pride and the occasion of an in-person ceremony, it doesn’t mean that our students’ achievements are any less significant.

76% of OU students work either full or part-time while studying, and many also do so while taking on additional caring responsibilities. We believe that everyone’s learner journey should be flexible to allow them to personalise their higher education experience, recognising the diversity of learners and their needs in Scotland. We will continue to make that point as the SFC and the Scottish Government work on the implementation plan for the review’s recommendations.  

This article is sponsored by The Open University.

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