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Open day at Walton Hall

Make a note in your diary - it's Open Day on the Open University campus at Walton Hall on Saturday 27 June. The all-day event is an opportunity to find out about the OU's huge range of activities and to have a fun day out. There are activities for all the family, entry is free and everyone is welcome. Overnight camping facilities are available (see picture, right), bookable in advance. For more information contact Josie Clarke at the OU in Milton Keynes on 01908 652007.

Opportunity for Highlanders

The Open University has signed an agreement with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to work together in encouraging wider participation at university level education in the area. They will also seek to develop innovative approaches to learner support and learning technologies. "In partnership, we believe we can provide extended opportunities, especially for students not living in the main population centres," said Peter Syme, director of the OU in Scotland.

The agreement strengthens an existing academic partnership in which the Open University validation service undertook last year to validate and confer degrees developed by the UHI's network of colleges and research institutions and to assist the UHI to attain full university status.

The UHI is based on existing further education colleges and other specialist institutions in the Highlands and islands of Scotland. The aim is to link them together using an advanced digital telecoms network to create a "dispersed campus".

Video link-up for centres

The OU's Walton Hall campus and its regional centres have all been linked by a video network.

All these sites can connect into the video-conferencing network anywhere in the world, opening up new possibilities for teaching and international collaboration.

The installation of the new system has been managed by the OU's new technology research and implementation unit, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Newcastle regional office is already experienced in video-conferencing, having used it to link up with far-flung students in Europe and beyond.

Grant increase

Efforts to persuade the government's funding council to treat the OU like all other universities when it comes to its annual grant have paid off, with a grant increase of one per cent or pounds l.69m.

Geoff Peters, the OU's pro-vice-chancellor (strategy and planning) said that the Funding Council for England "has at last accepted that the OU is under-funded" and is increasing its grant by the maximum available.

OU goes all-Ireland

The former Open University in Northern Ireland has dropped the "Northern" from its title to become the Open University in Ireland.

The change reflects the fact that, while the main administrative office is in Belfast, the OU region operates on an all-Ireland basis. There are now more students in the Republic than in Northern Ireland. Rosemary Hamilton, the OU in Ireland director, said there should be uniform public awareness and student support throughout the island.

Many commercial companies and agencies operate on an all-Ireland basis to help enhance cross-border activities.

Bursaries for women

An initiative to help women from ethnic minorities to achieve promotion at work has been launched by the OU Business School in partnership with the OU ethnic minorities project in Yorkshire and three training and enterprise councils (TECs).

Bursaries of pounds 1,000 are being offered by Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees and Leeds TECs to enable women from ethnic minorities to achieve a professional certificate in management by studying the OU's capable manager course (B600).

Dr Jalil Ahmed, the OU's ethnic minorities project officer based in Region 7 (Yorkshire), said she was "absolutely delighted" by the funding.