The Open University in Scotland launched its vision for galvanising higher education to support an inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
A prospectus for the next government, Skills+ Scotland, was published ahead of the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May.
It sets out the OU’s broad vision for Scotland post-pandemic across four themes:
• Economic recovery - demonstrating the potential role for The OU in Scotland to support the next Scottish Government in delivering targeted skills support at scale, rolled out nationally.
• Supporting part-time students - ensuring they receive a fair deal, removing financial barriers to accessing learning and achieving their potential.
• Widening access - providing vital digital access and connectivity to open up higher education to the most disadvantaged across Scotland.
• Lifelong skills – highlighting a commitment on skills which would ensure higher education is open to everyone, at any stage of their life.
Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our society, our economy and our workplaces and we are all adapting to an uncertain and changing world. A new focus on learning, reskilling and upskilling from the parliament is vital as the nation recovers.
“More agile higher education provision, open to people at all stages of life, delivered flexibly and with shorter courses and modules focused on the skills we need are central to this."
She emphasised that The OU in Scotland, with over fifty years’ experience of high-quality distance learning, was well placed to extend its work as a partner with the Scottish Government, employers and task forces to deliver targeted skills support at scale on a national basis.
“Our supported 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.”
The OU in Scotland currently has over 20,000 students based in every Scottish parliamentary constituency from the Shetland Isles to Dumfries and Galloway. Over three quarters combine work and study making it the country’s largest provider of part-time higher and flexible education.