From education to employment

Gordon Brown receives honorary doctorate from the Open University

Former Prime Minister, Dr Gordon Brown

Former Prime Minister, Dr Gordon Brown, has been recognised for his services to global education by The Open University (OU) at a ceremony in London. He was presented with his honorary doctorate by OU’s Chancellor Baroness Lane-Fox.

Gordon Brown was awarded the Doctor of the University for his exceptional contribution to widening access to educational opportunities globally. His continued championing of education in areas of conflict, disaster and extreme poverty has transformed the life chances of millions of people around the world.

Upon acceptance of his award Gordon Brown said,

“It is an honour to be part of the Open University’s 50th anniversary as it celebrates its two millionth student and its now global reputation as a university committed to education for all. 

“As one of its first tutors in the early 1970s I have followed its remarkable progress and I am delighted that the Open University has become such a treasured British institution.”  

Chancellor of The Open University Baroness Lane-Fox said,

“Our world is changing rapidly. The need for education is more critical now than it has ever been. Globally, we face growing challenges from climate change, automation and mass movement of people. Education has enormous potential to help us all. Gordon’s achievements and how his work is bringing the importance of global education as a solution to many of the humanitarian crises we’re facing to the fore. It is for his tireless efforts that we’re proud to honour him with this award.”

Gordon Brown is also UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the Education Workforce Report that is due to be published on the 23 September. His wife, Sarah Brown also gave an impassioned speech at the ninth Pan-Commonwealth Forum in Edinburgh about the need for a concerted effort to meet global education needs by 2030.

The Open University’s Charter includes provision for the Senate (a governance body of the OU) to award honorary degrees of Doctor of the University (DUniv). The DUniv is awarded to people whose achievements have had an impact nationally or internationally, and who are widely recognised by others working in the field.

About The Open University (OU): The largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the university was founded with a clear purpose: to open up education to all. Since those beginnings in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students worldwide and has over 170,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

Over 75% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the latest assessment exercise for university research (Research Excellence Framework, 2014), nearly three quarters (72%) of OU research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available, awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The OU is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.

The OU has had a unique educational partnership with the BBC since 1971, collaborating on a range of content across TV, radio and digital channels/platforms.  Each year the OU co-produces approximately 35 prime-time TV and radio series such as, Blue Planet II, The Prosecutors and Inside the Foreign Office.  We achieved more than 351m viewing and listening events last year which prompted more than 1.6 million visits to our 17/18 broadcast related content on the OU’s free learning website, OpenLearn

Regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units, as well as games, videos and academic articles, which have reached over 36 million people.

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