A project to widen access to more affordable education opportunities worldwide was announced at a landmark meeting in Scotland in October.
UNESCO and International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Chair in Open Education Resource (OER) Dr Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation based at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, facilitated the 5th International Meeting of OERu partners and the Open Education Resource universitas (OERu) Council of Chief Executive Officers’ Meeting in Inverness, hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands.
At the meeting the Council announced plans to launch the OERu 1st Year of Study programme early in 2017. This will offer learners the opportunity to gain internationally recognised qualifications including the Certificate Higher Education Business (OERu) from the University of Highlands and Islands; and the Certificate of General Studies from Thompson Rivers University in Canada.
The 1st Year of Study is an online programme offered at no cost through the OERu, built on a foundation of open educational resources with content assembled through an international network of innovative institutions spanning a dozen countries and five continents.
The implementation of the OERu is a designated project of the UNESCO OER Chair Network aimed at widening access to more affordable education opportunities worldwide, especially learners who will not have the privilege of a tertiary education for lack of funds or access to tertiary education.
“The 2012 Paris OER Declaration convened by UNESCO calls on governments worldwide to openly license publicly funded education materials for public use,” says Dr Mackintosh. “The OERu innovation partnership is demonstrating how the implementation of OER can contribute to more sustainable education futures and alternatives for the reduction of student debt.”
For additional information about this programme visit OERu.org/FirstYear
Following an international open meeting with funding support from UNESCO, the Open Education Resource universitas (OERu) was established to facilitate access to free online courses for students around the world. A growing international network of socially motivated institutions contributes to the creation of OERu courses and provides affordable opportunities for learners to gain academic credit towards recognised qualifications.
Operational costs for shared OERu infrastructure are funded through membership in the OER Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2009, with surplus revenue invested into charitable activities for the benefit of the network. OERu partners recoup assessment and credentialing services on a fee-for-service basis.