Open University for All

The combination of a sincere commitment and drive to addressing race equality within the OU, the recognition of the Black Lives Matters movement and the impact of COVID-19 on Black and Asian communities, provided a platform to spearhead a bigger, bolder and braver approach to engage our communities.

We were onboarded to define a strategy to increase the proportion of new Black and Asian UK undergraduate students at the OU over 5 years.

We worked closely with the OU to set out the strategy, provide a detailed implementation plan and evaluation metrics to meet their targets, using relevant behaviour change models.

To inform the strategy and implementation plan, we developed an agile, iterative process to help build a deeper understanding of past and current communications used to reach and engage potential Black and Asian students. This identified the successful approaches, as well as the opportunities and areas for improvement.

As part of the process we reviewed relevant reports and conducted one-to-one interviews with internal and external stakeholders to get a deeper insight into the different perspectives on the key challenges and opportunities to recruiting Black and South Asian students. We also ran a communications planning workshop to share findings and garner views on our proposed approach before finalising the strategy and implementation plan.

In addition to the strategy development work, we also created a best practice framework, which offered practical, user-friendly guidance on developing inclusive or targeted communications aimed at potential Black and Asian students.

Our approach to this brief secured the buy-in of key stakeholders throughout the development of the proposed strategy, which resulted in the plan being well received across the OU. Our strategy has played an integral role in shaping the OU’s paid, earned and owned national campaign, as well as bespoke targeted activations.