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Curriculum changes to attract more students to the OU

This story was updated on 25 July 2018

The Open University is refreshing its curriculum to introduce new options for students while dropping areas of study which are less popular.

The OU proposes to launch 12 new degrees or degree apprenticeships, designed to appeal to a new generation of students, and to withdraw nine currently available qualifications and one standalone certificate.

Following a review, it has also been decided to withdraw, merge or reintroduce in a different form around 65 modules – elements of study within a degree – which have generally proved less popular with students.

Maintaining a broad curriculum

The changes will mean that the University retains a broad curriculum across all its faculties. No academic disciplines are being removed from the curriculum.

Most of the proposals have now been approved by the University’s academic governance committees following wide consultation within the faculties. There may be further small changes in the Autumn.

It is anticipated that these changes will make a significant contribution towards an overall annual savings figure of around £30 million. This is identified as necessary to ensure that the University is financially sustainable.

Among the planned new qualifications to be introduced over the next year are degrees or degree apprenticeships in cyber security, economics, social work, IT software development and professional policing.

Time for review

Mary Kellett, Acting Vice-Chancellor at The Open University, said: “Any university periodically looks at its curriculum to ensure it continues to meet the needs of students.

“We have more than 170,000 students at the OU and many highly successful courses, but there are some areas where we could offer more options and others where, regrettably, we are not attracting enough interest.

“We believe this review leaves us in a strong position to draw in new students by meeting demand and it makes the curriculum sustainable in the longer term. The changes will play an important part in making the University financially sustainable by reducing its operating costs.”

Advice for students

The review outcomes means that the total number of Bachelors and Masters degrees the University currently offers (94) will remain broadly the same.

Students registered on degrees being withdrawn reflect less than three per cent of students. All those currently on degrees earmarked for withdrawal will be offered appropriate time to complete them or the option of transferring to other courses. Notice will also be given of modules being removed from, or replaced in, degrees we are continuing.

At this early stage, it is not possible to know what the impact on staff could be. This is because the University will be entering into a period of consultation with the trade unions about how to determine future workforce needs for 2019/2020 and beyond, and mitigate potential job losses.

The following qualifications have already been approved for withdrawal:

  • Master of Arts in Music
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Management (Sport and Football)
  • Certificate of Higher Education in Business Management (Sport and Football)
  • Diploma of Higher Education in Business Management (Sport and Football)
  • Professional Certificate in Management
  • Master of Sciences in Advanced Healthcare Practice
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Healthcare Practice
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Healthcare Practice
  • Master of Sciences in Advanced Networking
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Networking
  • Master of Sciences in Medicinal Chemistry
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry
  • Bachelor of Sciences (Hons) in Environmental Management and Technology
  • Diploma Higher Education in Environmental Management and Technology
  • Master of Sciences in Development Management
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Development Management
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Development Management
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Conflict and Development
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Human Rights and Development Management
  • Master of Arts in Online and Distance Education
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education.


About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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