THE number of people taking courses on the Open University from the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area is much higher than the Scottish average.

Cowdenbeath MSP, Annabelle Ewing, met in Parliament this week with the Open University.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Ewing highlighted local links to the Open University and praised the OU as a “wonderful institution”, providing excellent opportunities for many to broaden their education and improve their qualifications, saying:

“I was delighted to meet with Kenny Stewart from the Open University at the Scottish Parliament this week, particularly since one of the key founders of the Open University, Jenny Lee, was born in Lochgelly, attended Beath High School and made her first contribution to education as a teacher in Cowdenbeath!

“Given that background, I was pleased to learn that OU take up in Cowdenbeath is above the Scottish average. The OU’s founding principles of openness and distance learning are still central tenets and key to encouraging wide access to tertiary education".

Jenny Lee was also the Minister in Harold Wilson's Government in the late 1960s which guided the Open University into being and over the past two years Cowdenbeath Area Committee held events celebrating her impact in the arrival of the OU.

Ms Ewing added: “The flexibility that is built in to the structure of the Open University makes it ideal for students who have busy lives and, indeed, nearly three quarters of those in my constituency undertaking OU courses are in work.

“The accessibility of Open University courses is underscorerd by the fact that a quarter of their students have a disability.

“Financial accessibility is encouraged by the way in which all OU students are classed as part-time students and so have access to a means-tested part-time fee grant. Additionally, OU’s OpenLearn platform makes 5% of all course material available for free on their website so people can see if a course is likely to be for them.

“I was pleased to note that there the OU has close to gender balance in STEM subjects and that it is also possible to study OU courses on campus at Fife College".

The MSP concluded: “As we approach the 50th anniversary of this wonderful institution, I want to take the opportunity to recommend the Open University to anyone interested in broadening their education and improving their qualifications whether that is for personal development or to improve their career potential.”

Ms Ewing is pictured on Wednesday with Kenny Stewart of the Open University at the Parliament.