Open Eye: A will's the way to open doors

The last week of March will be Make a Will Week. During that time there will be plenty of information in the press about the importance of having a valid will for your friends and family - and the many ways you can support causes you believe in with a legacy.

As you'll discover, making or updating your will is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. Yet it can make an enormous difference to the people you care about, and the charities and institutions - such as the OU - that you might want to remember.

Leaving a legacy to the Open University is a unique and wonderful way to help people transform their lives - as OU graduate Patricia Campbell discovered.

Patricia's relationship with the University began way back in 1974, when she was a network assistant at the BBC, helping to get OU programmes on the air. She liked what she saw and felt drawn to the challenge of taking an OU degree herself. She also had a hankering to join the BBC's News and Current Affairs department, and she knew a good, relevant, degree would help her get there.

In 1986, she graduated from the OU with a BA in Arts and Social Sciences, which turned out to be the perfect passport to the job she wanted.

"Doing my OU degree definitely made a huge difference to my career. It gave me greater understanding and insight, as well as the confidence to deal with smart, highly educated people," she says.

"It was also an accomplishment in itself. At the time, the job I had was very demanding and my sister was also seriously ill. The OU was perfect for me because it was so flexible. I could do my studying at two o'clock in the morning if I had to!"

Patricia was so impressed by her experience of the OU she felt she wanted to give something back. She volunteered to do some telephone fundraising and as a result became more aware of the value of donations and legacies.

"I hadn't ever thought about leaving a legacy before, but the more I learned about it, the better an idea it seemed. "I want other people to enjoy all the benefits OU study brings - I am very proud of my degree, and believe the OU is one of the best Universities in the world."

Like all universities in the UK, the OU receives grants from the Government. But, as the biggest, it has to work hard to generate extra sources to help achieve goals which cannot be delivered through public funds alone. Legacies are a highly-valued part of this "extra" income from donations, entrepreneurial activity, and affinity marketing.

As Dr Alison Binns of the University's Development Office explains: "Legacies help the University to continue its mission of being open as to people, to places, to ideas and methods. They allow us to invest in new developments in teaching and research, and new developments which have real and visible impact not only on OU people but also in the world well beyond the University.

"The OU is moving forward all the time, to meet the changing needs of new generations of students, by developing new courses, in applying new technologies to teaching and learning, and in making these technologies ever more accessible.

"Then there are the thousands of OU students on low incomes, or with disabilities, who rely on OU grants for the chance to study for a degree.

"At present there are around 6,000 students at the OU who have a disability - that's more than at any other University in the world. Without that financial assistance or help with specialist equipment, most would never be able to graduate."

It is this last aspect of legacy-giving that captured Patricia Campbell's interest and persuaded her to include the OU in her will.

"While I was studying, I made a very good friend who was blind. By the time he finished his OU degree, he was able to change his job from shorthand- typist to become an economics lecturer. It was amazing to see how much his life was changed - even more than mine had been.

"It really struck me how much an OU qualification can inspire greater self-confidence, as well as helping people achieve their dreams. This is particularly important for those who have a disability. And it can be so much harder for them, financially as well as practically. My friend needed a talking computer, and that cost a fortune.

"The wonderful thing is there is so much new technology around now to help people overcome their disabilities and learn. The problem is that it can just be too expensive. I realised that by leaving a legacy to be invested in technology for the disabled, I could really do something worthwhile.

"There's nothing like an education for opening the mind. It can completely change your life. I can't imagine a better gift than that, to leave another human being."

For more information about leaving a legacy to the OU, please contact Dr Alison Binns on 01908 653887.

A legacy which made a real difference

One graduate whose legacy really made a difference to the OU was James Pavis. He had enjoyed his OU courses in social sciences, particularly those involving sociologyand anthropology, so much that he left the OU the money to promote those studies.

His bequest resulted in the Pavis Centre for Social and Cultural Research, formally launched in 1994 with an inaugural lecture by Michael Ignatieff. The Centre will support the new National Everyday Culture Programme. This is a research network of sociology associate lecturers capable of undertaking national enquiries into varied social aspects of everyday cultural life- and the existing Open Studies in Family and Community History. It will also promote the new MA Programme in Cultural and Media Studies and recruit research students. James Pavis's legacy also supports an annual prize to the best student on each of three undergraduate sociology courses, and pays the expenses of visiting fellows and speakers and other ongoing activities.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?