The Open University (OU) today won two awards after being shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious Guardian University Awards 2020, which showcases some of the best work from across the Higher Education sector.
The OU was selected as the winner in the categories of Research Impact and Widening Access and Outreach by a panel of expert judges.
The win for research impact went to nQuire, an online citizen science platform developed by the OU which allows members of the general public to act as scientists and recognises research projects that demonstrate either academic impact through advancing knowledge, or which results in measurable benefits to the wider society and/or the economy.
Project lead, Dr Christothea Herodotou, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, said:
“nQuire is an innovative technological solution that enables any citizen, community or organisation to manage their own scientific investigations from start to finish and to define and pursue their own research agenda.
“It has scaled up learning from citizen science to thousands of citizens. Its impact has been greatly boosted by a significant collaboration with the BBC. We are delighted to have been named the winner at this year’s awards and for the platform to be recognised for its research impact.”
Widening access and outreach
The Open University programme with Uber scooped the award in the widening access and outreach category, which is awarded to an initiative that has demonstrably helped to increase the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented students entering the university, through working with schools and communities to raise aspirations.
The programme provides 35,000 drivers and their family members with the opportunity to study undergraduate programmes for free, allowing them to achieve their educational ambitions.
Simon Tindall, Head of New Business, Business Development Unit, said:
“I want to thank the people directly involved in this project both on the side of Uber and The Open University, without whom it wouldn’t have been as exciting, innovative and ultimately as successful as it has been.
“The programme has not only helped Uber retain their top tier drivers, but it has also given those drivers and their families an opportunity to build on their education and open up future opportunities.”
‘Pioneer and a game-changer’
Professor Tim Blackman, OU Vice-Chancellor, added:
“We are honoured to receive these Guardian University Awards which recognise the incredible achievements of our staff and how they make life-changing differences for our students, the public and colleagues. To scoop two awards in 2020 and be a runner up for the third is great news for the OU in what has been the most testing of years for many of us.
“The OU has always been a pioneer and a game-changer. Our innovative teaching model, world-leading research and academic expertise has enabled over two million students – from all ages and backgrounds – to succeed and transform their lives through education.”
The OU was also a runner up in the staff experience category with, The Care and Caring Network shortlisted which is awarded to an outstanding initiative that has a significant and measurable impact on working conditions for staff, from equality and diversity to pay and pensions. The network is an innovative and unique initiative within the Higher Education (HE) sector that responds to the growing universality of caring and its potential workplace and career impact. The CCN@OU also evidences a university-wide commitment to social justice for carers.