Open Universities: the next phase

Tait, Alan (2018). Open Universities: the next phase. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 13(1) pp. 13–23.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/aaouj-12-2017-0040

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to report on research on the views of Presidents and Vice Chancellors of Open Universities of current threats and opportunities for their institutions as the author approaches the 50th anniversary of the first Open University in the UK in 1969. The paper offers a historical account of the development of the Open University model, and assesses the extent to which it remains in the key position as owner of innovation in the higher education sector.

Design/methodology/approach - Interviews were conducted with leaders of Open Universities or distance teaching universities. They covered a total of 14 universities.

Findings - The replies from institutional leaders reveal the current developments, opportunities and strategic challenges of the universities. It is suggested that the digital revolution along with a wider range of environmental changes for higher education have substantially eroded the first-mover advantage that Open Universities had undoubtedly enjoyed in the first 25 years.

Originality/value - The paper concludes that there are significant concerns that innovation in Open Universities is not sufficiently embedded to ensure that their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be maximised, or even in some cases their survival, and that a key but undervalued element is leadership development for innovation and change.

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