"The OU’s on-going mission is to develop distance learning capabilities."
The Open University (OU), the UK’s largest university, is set to share knowledge and expertise with India.
The need for higher education development is crucial in India, having an estimated 40 million university places to fill by 2020.
The OU is currently working to support this aim, using distance learning as the way to do it.
Vice Chancellor Peter Horrocks and Director of External Engagement Steve Hill paid a visit to India on February 16, 2016 to exchange a Memorandum of Understanding with Amity University.
This exchange will allow the British university to share its expertise and leadership in research, technology and innovation in distance education with a leading Indian institution.
Open University specialises in flexible distance learning, teaching over 1.8 million students since it opened in 1969.
The aim is to reduce the distance of learning from the university to the student, creating a less formal and strict structure to the work load and delegation of the lectures.
Steve has commented on this exchange: “This important agreement is a further demonstration of The OU’s on-going mission to develop distance learning capabilities both at home and abroad.
“We have always sought to bring the benefits of education to partners, economies and individuals by widening access to high-quality university education.
“The OU is continually seeking to respond to opportunities around the world, looking to share our leading expertise in distance learning with other countries.”
He goes on to state that the OU has over 40 years of experience which combines technology and education:
“The OU is ideally placed to play a central role in sustaining development in innovative economies such as India’s.
“Our vision at The OU is to continue helping build capacity in online and distance education to address global skills shortages, which will ultimately benefit societies and economies all around the world.”
India should benefit from this change, due to having a large population of English speakers and strong links to Britain. The sharing of British higher education should contribute enormously to the current students in India.
However, the visit is representative of the wider trend of internationalisation in British higher education, which now no longer just consists of foreign students coming to the UK for a limited period of time.
Instead, this now sees British institutions establishing a presence abroad.
Open University is also known to work in partnership with many UK businesses. This partnership will provide training solutions that are aligned with business needs.
It is this type of education that the University believes will be of great value to India.
India needs to train 500 million people in the next year to sustain its phenomenal economic growth, currently the fastest in the world at 7.6 per cent per annum.
The OU are the UK’s leader in part-time education, and have 76 per cent of their current students studying with them whilst simultaneously working full or part time.
The higher education institution believes it is well equipped to deliver consistent learning at scale to dispersed workforces.