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Open University in Scotland

The focus during the three year life span of the current Enhancement Theme of Student Transitions is to explore the nature of transitions into, through and out of higher education. As the only higher education institution in Scotland dedicated to supported open learning, and the largest UK provider of distance education to a primarily part-time mature student body, the Open University are acutely aware that the learning journeys students undertake are diverse, with multiple entry and exit points to and from higher education.

It is this awareness of the diversity of student journeys that has shaped the nature of the University’s engagement with the Enhancement Theme and its exploration of how the University understands and support student transitions in, through and out of higher education. The University’s overarching aim during three years of the Theme is to enhance its understanding of key transition points in the Open University learner journey and the support students required to navigate these junctures, focusing on diverse learner journeys in, through and out of higher education specifically considering part-time, mature, distance learning students.

During the final year of the Theme, the Open University in Scotland is planning to continue the work from Year 1 and 2 and focus on the following themes: fostering cultures of student community and engagement at a distance; resilience in transition; enhancing student success through effective learning partnerships; and networks and opening new pathways to higher education.

The institutional lead is Alison Gilmour.

Collaborative work


  • Scope and pilot a new Open University in Scotland Student Ambassador programme with a specific focus on supporting transitions from college to university study
  • Enhance the “Packed Lunch” learning and teaching seminars
  • Map the definitions, models and examples of student engagement in development and operation across the Open University in Scotland
  • Create and evaluate a new framework for induction and learning skills development for ‘New to Open University’ students
  • Disseminate the position paper on the concept of ‘learning resilience’ in the context of part-time, distance and online study
  • Develop a toolkit for resilience-fostering interventions and workshops
  • Run an intervention retention project using learning analytics
  • Evaluate work with schools, including the Young Applicants in School Scheme (YASS) programme
  • Develop a new pathway to Higher Education with the Scottish Childminding Association to support transitions into informal study.

Student Transitions: Multimedia Resources

The Open University in Scotland has produced a short animation offering practical tips to help students get started. The video aims to support students in getting the most out of their studies by highlighting the importance of being organised, actively engaging with and personalising their online learning spaces, and making and maintaining contact with their tutor or study advisor and their peers on the same module.

Watch the video