AOUG Will Swann Award for Innovation and Knowledge Development

Will Swann MBE, was Director Students at The Open University until his retirement in 2013 and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, in 2014, for his services to higher education. Will had worked at the OU for more than thirty-five years. His career at The Open University was a lifetime of commitment beginning first as a student, then academic and later Dean and since 2004 as Director Students where he had responsibility for more than 250,000 students in the UK and overseas.

Since 2004, Will led the University’s strategy and programme in widening participation – to promote and protect the needs of all students whatever their background. In this regard Will made a significant contribution to the achievement of national policy objectives designed to expand educational opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The improvements in the numbers of such students signing up to OU modules followed the development and implementation, under his direction, of a highly-focused approach not just for recruitment but for retention and attainment.

Will’s other achievements during this period include expanding the OU’s outreach service, development of services to the disabled and an enhancement of the University’s work within a prison setting. With the introduction of the new Higher Education funding environment in the UK, Will proposed the introduction of the Access to Success Route as a way of maintaining the University’s commitment to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This pathway provides a low-risk, low-cost route into Higher Education for students with low income or low self-esteem in studying at HE level.

The Association of Open University Graduates made Will an Honorary Life Member of AOUG in 2013 for all the support and advice he had given to AOUG over his time at the OU and he received his Award at the Annual Research Awards Ceremony on the OU campus at Milton Keynes. Will gave permission for his name to be used for the AOUG Will Swann Award for Innovation and Knowledge Development which was offered for the first time in 2014. Unfortunately no suitable candidate was nominated during its first year of presentation.

Previous Winners
2019 Samantha Love
2018 John Brokx
2017 Paul Greer
2016 Victoria Holt
2015 Craig Walker