OU Charter Day 2016
It was a privilege and an honour to be invited to Charter Day at The Open University by Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications. Charter Day is a celebration of The Open University’s Birthday and provides a forum for promoting the work and future aspirations of the University.
The Charter states of the University that:- "It should advance and disseminate learning and knowledge" and also includes "to promote the educational wellbeing of the community generally"
The day began by an introduction from Lucian Hudson followed by a speech from the Vice Chancellor, Peter Horrocks. His speech started by saying he had met such inspiring dedicated students and in particular one student who said the OU had saved his life. He went on to say that he felt everyone was important in the workings of the University from those people who worked in catering, to security staff, cleaners and academics. He stated he admitted it had been a challenging year with plenty of external debates and disagreements but that they were winning. New loans for part time study were to be introduced and he had met with the Prime Minister regarding widening participation. The OU was having a major impact on research especially in the field of space and finding help for Alzheimer’s. A tribute was given of Asa Briggs, who has recently passed away, in remembrance and to remember his enthusiasm and work for the OU.
Pro Chancellor, Richard Gillingwater, who is also Chair of Council stated that the OU had a strong sense of purpose and a good overall strategy. Forty three percent of students felt they were well prepared for working life. His pledge was to increase involvement of student diversity.
Honorary Graduate, Alice Chigumira, was a guest speaker who had fled to the UK as a refugee from Zimbabwe, initially leaving her children due to political uprisings in the country. Alice was awarded an Honorary Masters Degree of The Open University in 2014 for her notable contribution to Public Services, Education and Culture. She now works in Reading as a mental health Social Worker and has been involved heavily in the Reading Refugee support group. Her philosophy was to make sure that you read a book each month, as she said the inspiration she felt from this, had been life changing for her. She also emphasised that making a small change helps, changes don’t need to be massive. We were able to ask her later about her children and were very pleased to hear that they are now with her.
If you would like to read more about Alice and the plight of refugees please go to www.theimmigrantsproject.org Alice was particularly inspiring and I urge you to read her story.
A Student Focus Panel was held when questions regarding the student experience were invited from members in the lecture theatre and those watching on the IT links. Ruth Tudor was on the panel, who completes her Term of her Office as OUSA President in June. Ruth presented a small video and provided an insight into being a student at The Open University.
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Belinda Tynan, presented The Open University Teaching Awards to staff that had been innovative, and developed learning in new ways. She talked about the opportunities for opening up minds and that such a legacy can be liberating. Awards were presented and encouragement to make pledges continued.