Maddalaine Ansell, Chief Executive of University Alliance, said: “As an innovative university with an impressive record in delivering research with impact and high quality teaching, The Open University is a natural fit for University Alliance.
“We share a commitment to providing high quality teaching to everyone with the ability and aspiration to go to university – recognising that this is important for both prosperity and growth and for social fairness.”
Part-time study at university level has been hit by recent changes to the way higher education is funded – particularly in England – with a 41% decline in the number of part-time undergraduates over the last five years. However 90% of the UK’s current workforce will still be in work in the next decade, and it is predicted that over the next 30 years, there will be 13 million vacancies but only 7 million school leavers to fill them.
Peter Horrocks CBE, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “The higher education sector faces a number of challenges over the months and years ahead, and part-time study is far from immune from these. By joining forces with like-minded universities, we can face these challenges together and build on our shared commitment to quality, innovation and inclusivity. I look forward to working with fellow members of the Alliance to act as a powerful advocate for the benefits of higher education to individuals, our economy and society as a whole.”
Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said: “This is a crucial time for the higher education sector – with challenges and opportunities, for us all. It is important that like-minded universities work together to innovate together, learn from each other and support every member to transform lives and deliver growth.
“University Alliance uses its collective experience of providing high quality teaching and research with real world impact to ensure our local communities thrive and grow. With The Open University, we will have an even more powerful voice to advocate for excellent and inclusive higher education in the UK.”