What is the OU Students Association?
Your OU Students Association enables you to influence how your University is run. We exist to promote your interests and to ensure the OU is more than just a place of learning – it’s a student community.
An association is a lot like a student union – we aim to help you make the most of your time studying. Depending on what you’re interested in, we can help you get in touch with other students, get involved, find information and news, get help, attend events and access services to support your learning.
We represent the collective rather than individual needs of the student body. If we can’t help you directly, we aim to find someone who can.
The Association is run by students, for students and is supported by a staff team based at the Open University campus in Milton Keynes.
Students represent your academic interests at the highest levels of the OU decision-making structures through the Association. We also facilitate student-led groups, such as our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students Group, Disabled Students Group and OU Pride (our LGBTQ+ group), to ensure support and representation for our members.
Our purpose is outlined as part of the University’s Student Charter and we’re assessed and driven by results of the National Student Survey.
Am I automatically a member?
When you enrol on an Open University (OU) course, you automatically become a member. You can opt-out of the Students Association – but why would you? Your membership is free and gives you access to some great sources of support, including our individual representation services which was set up to advise and support students who may find themselves facing disciplinary action from the University or who wish to make a complaint themselves.
How can I meet other students?
Take a look at our Community and Volunteering pages to see what opportunities are on offer and what other students are up to near you. There are plenty of student societies, groups and clubs to choose from, so why not see if there’s one for you?
We know that OU students can be very busy balancing study and other commitments, such as work and family life so why not join the OU students online through Facebook, Twitter or our student forums.
Who represents me?
The OU Students Association provides many different opportunities for students to be involved in student voice activity – and we provide opportunities to be involved in Academic Representation through our volunteering roles. Academic Representation plays a key part in making sure that your student voice is heard and getting your feedback assures that we’re working on projects that truly matter to you. Your elected leadership team also represent your voice on a national level, making sure that the collective OU Student Voice is heard loud and clear.
Roles taken on by students include Student Representatives, who sit on committees throughout the University; the Learner Experience Representatives, who act as the eyes and ears of the Association and members of the Student Leadership Team, who are the group of students elected leaders (supported by our Board of Trustees). These volunteer roles play a part in providing information on what the OU's getting right, and what the student opinion is – in order to enable continuous development and a better study experience.
Why not find out more about representation on our Student Voice page or have a look at our current volunteer roles?
What kind of support is on offer to me?
The Association is run for students by students and by getting involved you’re joining a huge community of students who are experiencing the student journey. Within this supportive community we have our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Students Group, Disabled Students Group and OU Pride (our LGBTQ+ group)
We know study isn’t always easy and obstacles can sometimes get in the way. For those times when balancing study and life just seems like too much, or when you’re in need of a listening ear, TalkCampus and Shout 85258 are here for you.
Although your first port of call for financial support advice would be The Open University, some students might be eligible to apply for funds through the Open University Students Educational Trust, a student charity to support students in financial hardship.
If you decide to sign up to volunteer, you will also receive support from the Student Volunteering Team based in Milton Keynes who you can chat with if you ever need to talk about your role, ideas you’ve had or just need some help balancing volunteering with other things in your life.
Where is the Association based?
Our volunteers are from all over the UK and beyond, our team of staff are based on the OU’s campus in Milton Keynes. Our volunteers are encouraged to visit different parts of the country, but ultimately a lot of the University’s decision-making takes place on campus. That’s not to say that students attending meetings have to be local to the area. Students often join meetings remotely or receive reasonable expenses so that students can come along and represent the student voice.
Do you need to be based near OU campus to take part?
The answer is no. This is one of the common myths we’d like to dispel. Our student volunteers sometimes visit campus, but reasonable expenses are paid for them to attend meetings and events in Milton Keynes.
We have many volunteer and community actitivies which are run and supported entirely online.
There is often the option to join meetings remotely or attend meetings and consultations in different areas closer to where you live. What’s more, Students get involved in community activities all over – particularly our meet-up hosts and societies, who run socials and activities around the country and beyond.