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Martha Lane Fox appointed as Chancellor of the OU

The OU has appointed Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho as its new Chancellor, succeeding Lord Puttnam who is stepping down after more than seven years in the role.

Martin Bean, said: "Just like the OU, Martha has always been a tireless advocate for all things digital, constantly working to unleash the incredible power of technology to transform and improve the way we live, work and study.  I would like to thank Lord Puttnam for his years of hard work and loyalty and look forward to welcoming Martha into this important role."

Martha Lane Fox has built her career around the digital world, making her mark as one of the founders of LastMinute.com. 

For more than four years she served as the government’s UK Digital Champion, leading a drive to get more people and services engaged with the online world.  In 2012 she launched a charity – Go ON UK – which aims to plug the digital skills gap among British adults. 

Last year she joined the House of Lords and recently led a debate on the 25th anniversary of the world wide web.

The appointment was approved by a joint meeting of the University’s governing body, the Council and the Senate at a meeting on Tuesday 11 March.  The Chancellor is the public face of the university, acting as an ambassador with supporters around the world and attending degree ceremonies.

Martha said: "I have seen how technology can transform the way we do things – from shopping to socialising to studying. The Open University has an astonishing track-record of using of new and emerging technologies to make higher education available to all people around the world.  Its ethos of inclusion and access is something I respect hugely.  I am extremely excited about this appointment and can’t wait to start meeting students."

In addition to her work with the government, Martha has served on the boards of Channel 4 and Marks & Spencer and is patron of several charities.  She is also helping to finance the Women’s Prize for Fiction. 

Martha will be formally installed as Chancellor of the OU later this year and will take up her formal duties from September.

Martin Bean presented the Colin Corder Award

Martin Bean has been recognised for his significant and lasting contribution to learning at a prestigious awards ceremony in London.

As guest of honour at the Learning Awards 2014 on Friday 7 February 2014Martin was presented with the 'Colin Corder Award' by the Learning and Performance Institute.

Established in 1995, the Learning and Performance Institute is one of the leading authorities in learning and development.

The institute assesses the quality of corporate learning services, recognising outstanding achievement and exceptional abilities of individuals and organisations within the industry.

Martin, who has led the University as Vice-Chancellor since 2009, said: "It is almost five years since I found out I'd be leading The Open University, and every day I am still surprised and delighted by the incredible work that goes on across this amazing institution. With my background in technology, there is no better place on earth to combine this with a passion for opening up education to anyone who wants to realise their potential.

"This award is not only a great personal honour, but recognition of the hard work of the thousands of colleagues who make the OU such a special place."

Tribute to Emeritus Professor Stuart Hall

Professor Stuart Hall, the leading cultural theorist and sociologist, has passed away at the age of 82. Stuart Hall joined the OU in 1979, and was Head of the Sociology Department for a decade before retiring as Emeritus Professor in 1997.

Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean, said:

"First and foremost our thoughts at The Open University are with Stuart's family and friends. Quite apart from the mark he left on the OU, his loss will be felt right across the world of academia and sociology as a whole. Stuart was one of the intellectual founders of cultural studies, publishing many influential books and shaping the conversations of the time.
"It was a privilege to have Stuart at the heart of The Open University - touching and influencing so many lives through his courses and tutoring. He was a committed and influential public intellectual of the new left, who embodied the spirit of what the OU has always stood for; openness, accessibility, a champion for social justice and of the power of education to bring positive change in peoples' lives."

In tribute to Professor Stuart Hall the OU will be flying its flag at half-mast.

AOUG launches new online member discussion forum

Today sees the launch of a new discussion forum exclusively for members of the AOUG. Members will be able to discuss AOUG matters as well as items of general interest. There are also regional sections for each group to discuss local items. We are currently investigating offering affiliate discounts on items members would find useful.

OUSA prepares for their 2014 Conference

Two years on from the first of the new style OUSA Conferences and the time has come to plan for the next amazing event. A huge part of the success in 2012 was down to the generous involvement of colleagues from across the Open University. Their contributions included tours of departments, audiences with senior academics, presentations of exceptional OU projects, innovative workshops, stimulating debates and insights into current research areas. This was combined with an exhibition area filled to bursting with demonstrations and displays on campus and a plethora of exciting interactive activities online.

With that success, OUSA has every reason to believe that Conference 2014 will be even bigger and better and students are already expressing their very keen interest to take part.

Vice-Chancellor appointed as a Business Ambassador

The Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean, has been appointed as a Business Ambassador by the UK Government. Martin joins a group of leading figures from a range of sectors, selected to help strengthen the UK’s overseas business networks and promote the UK on the international stage. Martin has been invited to join the Prime Minister (PM) on several overseas trade delegations, the latest being to China in December last year. His appointment as a Business Ambassador means he will have a role in promoting the UK abroad and raising the country’s reputation as a place to do business.

Martin said: "I am proud that The Open University enables students from all walks of life to realise their potential. UK Higher Education is the best in the world and is worth over £11bn to our economy. This appointment is not only an honour, but a great opportunity for me to show the world what UK Higher education can do to transform lives, drive innovation and build the workforce of today and tomorrow."

The announcement was made as the Government outlined a new initiative to encourage companies to bring production back to the UK. Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston said: "Exports to high-growth markets like China, India and Brazil are at all-time highs and the UK is the number one destination for foreign investment in Europe. However there is still more to do."

AOUG Nominations are in

OU pays tribute to Honorary Doctor Nelson Mandela

The OU today paid tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela, remembering his life and legacy across the world. The University awarded Mr Mandela an Honorary Doctorate in 2004. The award was conferred in Cape Town, South Africa by the then Vice-Chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley and Baroness Boothroyd, former Chancellor of the OU. Martin Bean said: "Nelson Mandela was a towering international figure who embodied the principles of social justice, equality and opportunity.  These are values that lie at the very heart of the Open University, which is why we awarded Mr Mandela an Honorary Doctorate in 2004 and why we are adding our voice to the countless tributes being paid around the world to this great man." Nelson Mandela’s high regard for education and how it could empower lives was praised by Professor Gourley as well as his "passion, morality and humanity". In the conferment speech, Brenda said: "Through all the years of his life Nelson Mandela recognized the importance of education. Despite all the difficulties of his early years, he studied law, first at the University of Fort Hare and then by distance education at the University of South Africa. He once said that 'education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world' and he fought, wherever he could, for the empowerment of people through education. Indeed, to him one of the great injustices of apartheid was its systematic destruction of the hopes and potential of black people as it deprived them of educational opportunity." 

When he was in prison on Robben Island he and his comrades helped each other learn whatever they could. They created what could be truly called 'a learning community' among their fellow prisoners, a remarkable 'university' under the harshest of circumstances.  The principles of social justice upon which the OU was established – principles which meant that any person, regardless of their previous educational attainments, and regardless of where they were, could study and achieve their potential – are principles that he personally espoused, practised in every way he could, and fought for. 

The OU has been teaching in South Africa since 1997. It runs the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa programme (TESSA). Established in 2005, this is a resource bank of teacher education materials, which is transforming the education of primary and secondary school teachers across Sub-Saharan Africa. The OU also launched HEAT in early 2011, an accelerated and scalable Healthcare Education and Training programme for frontline healthcare workers in Africa, providing them with vital healthcare skills and the potential to save millions of lives.

The OU flag was flown at half mast as a mark of respect.

AOUG website updates

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the site has undergone a number of changes during the last few days. Over the next couple of weeks you can look forward to a complete redesign of the home page and a new online purchasing system for the merchandise. Your feedback will be very welcome.

AOUG offers Olga Camm Bursary

Thanks to donations from AOUG members, our own charity, AOUG Foundation for Education, is able to invite applications from OU research students for a 2013 £1,000 Bursary. This is to be named after our founder Olga Camm and after a full selection and interview process, will be presented to the winning candidate on Friday 4th October during the Faculty Awards Ceremony on The Open University campus. It is hoped that Olga`s son and daughter will be present to meet the Bursary winner.


If you are a current OU research student or know anyone who is, then please check the Bursary criteria for eligibility.

New AOUG Officers co-opted

Ramsey Hertzog and Malcolm White both came to the end of their Terms of Office as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively, at the close of the AGM meetings at the Holiday Inn in Walsall on Saturday 18thMay 2013. Since no one had stood for election in either of these positions, it was necessary for co-options to be considered at the afternoon Executive Committee meeting. Margaret Stobirski, previous OMEGA Editor (and before that having served Terms of Office as Publicity Officer and also as the Executive Representative for the North West) was co-opted as Chairman and Lesley Sleigh, (previous Executive Representative for Yorkshire) was co-opted as the Vice-Chairman. These two join the continuing Jean Hertzog (Treasurer), Kate Macve (Publicity Officer) and Violet Rook (Development Officer) to form the Officer Team. The Executive Committee also welcomed Rosemary Hammick (London) and Derrick Franks (Yorkshire) who were elected as new Executive Representatives and welcomed back Jean Grout (East of England), Peter Williams (North West) and Jean McKenna (North) as returning Executive Representatives for their areas.  

AOUG Honorary Life Memberships

As a special celebration to mark the 25th Anniversary of AOUG it had been agreed to award several Honorary AOUG Life Memberships to either long standing members of AOUG who had played a significant role in the development of the Association or to retired OU staff who had shown extensive support of AOUG whilst employed by the OU. The main criteria was that these people should have acted “over and above” that expected of the role they held in supporting AOUG.
The following Honorary AOUG Life Memberships were announced by the retiring Chairman, Ramsey Hertzog, and endorsed by the members present at the AGM:

  • Will Swann (OU)
  • Roger Walters (OU)
  • Margaret Brett (AOUG 01)
  • Elizabeth Mount (AOUG 03)
  • Ginny Feeney (AOUG 07)
  • Lewis McKay (AOUG 11)
  • Tom Nisbet (AOUG 11)
  • Patricia Cowling (AOUG Europe)

The retiring Vice-Chairman, Malcolm White, then announced a further nomination which was also endorsed by the meeting.

  • Ramsey Hertzog (AOUG 07) Ramsey had been totally unaware of this previously.

Patricia Cowling and Ramsey Hertzog were presented with their scrolls at the Gala Dinner later in the day, whilst Margaret Brett is to receive hers at the London Anniversary lunch and all the others will be presented with their certificates during the AOUG October Award Ceremony.  

AOUG Chairman invited to OU Charter Day

On 23rd April The Open University will be holding a celebration to mark the anniversary of the University`s Royal Charter being granted in 1969 and we are delighted to report that the AOUG Chairman has been invited to the Vice-Chancellor`s private VIP lunch. In the invitation, it informs us that more than two million students have now engaged with The Open University since its inception.

During the celebrations the Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean, will be giving a special Charter Day speech and visitors will get the opportunity to view a showcase exhibition covering some of the University`s major projects and research..     

Olga Camm Bursary plans progressing

Thank you to all members who have so far made donations towards the funds for the Olga Camm Bursary.(Please note there is still time to send your donations if you would like to support this special Award). Preparations are now in hand to advertise this Bursary to OU research students to enable them to undertake future aspects for their research. Once advertised and applications received, the candidates will undergo an interview process prior to the charity Trustees` selection of the recipient. In this our Anniversary year, we are proud to be able to name our Bursary after our Founder Olga Camm, and some of her family are hoping to attend the Award Ceremony on Friday 4th  October 2013 and to meet recipient.

2013 Degree Season well underway

Degree Ceremonies are now progressing throughout the country and AOUG have been able to provide two volunteers to take part in the official processions. The first ceremony was in March at the Harrogate Conference Centre and ceremonies continue through to June when there is a short break for the Summer. They then recommence in September, finishing with the final event in November at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. Some very popular venues have two ceremonies to accommodate all the new graduates wishing to take part and each graduate receives a copy of the Graduate Directory which this year has a half page piece about our Association.  We also have copies of OMEGA and our Welcome Pack available from the Alumni stand.

AOUG now accepting online membership payments

You can find the new AOUG online membership pages here.

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