Open University appoints £70m digital partner

Distance learning institution awards contract for supplier to support rollout over the coming five years of various online tools for use both by the university’s staff and its 200,000 students

The Open University has signed a potential £70m-plus deal for a partner to help support the creation and rollout of online services.

The deal, awarded to digital transformation firm Kainos, came into effect on 22 March and runs for an initial term of four years, with an optional one-year extension. While no spending via the agreement is guaranteed, the university expects that the contract may be worth up to £60m plus VAT – equating to £72m.

The engagement is intended to provide the OU with a private-sector partner to support the distance-learning institution with rolling out digital tools for use both by internal staff and students.

“The scope of [this requirement] is: a digital delivery partner to help build and iterate a range of digital services that will improve our students experience of studying with the university,” the contract-award notice said. “We want our students to be successful and reduce the time they spend on routine administrative tasks whilst improving the support we give them. This work could include delivering elements of student facing services, replacing, or improving other external/internal services used by our workforce and overall is aimed at reducing our implementation and operating costs through good service design and rapid development.”

Founded 55 years ago, the Milton Keynes-headquartered university serves a student body of almost 200,000 learners – about 70% continue to work part- of full-time during their studies.

Sam Trendall

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