Distance learning is nothing new, with the first courses launching back in the 1890s. However, what is new is the high quality of materials and course delivery which we at Open Study College deliver. It’s this quality approach which has revolutionised the delivery of this type of online distance learning.
In an industry which has previously been blackened by some providers not delivering on promises, we are turning this reputation on its head. Founded in 2007, we were a two person family business with a turnover of £500k. Fast forward 10 years and Open Study College now offering over 450 high quality courses to over 60,000 students through trusted providers, including A Levels and AAT to name just two. Through our distance learning courses we are changing lives by providing accessible courses for people who want to study in their spare time but find traditional college timetables too restrictive.
Award Winning Empowerment To win an Influential Women in Business Award is personally very flattering. I’m still relatively young in terms of business, I think I can still get away with saying that – and am very proud of what I’ve achieved in my career so far.
As an organisation whose customers are largely women in the 18-38 age range it’s great to think that we’re empowering women across the UK and also being recognised for our efforts – which I find incredibly positive.
For Open Study College, being recognised for innovation and excellence with peers who have also played an important part in major developments around the world, alongside some of the world’s most successful organisations including PWC, Core Medical Imaging and Citra Health Solutions to name a few, is testament to how far our business has come.
Women in Leadership Women still face challenges in business today. Yes we’ve made huge progress but women in leadership bring a hugely positive and different perspective to the businesses they lead and ensure that there is a nurturing and empathetic side to business which usually works well for staff morale. A mixture of men and women at the helm is the perfect scenario for a balanced business.
As Chief Operating Officer, I’m involved in all aspects of the business means that no two days are the same for me, which is great. One day I can be with the team focusing on the next promotional campaigns and the next day I can be head down, blinkers on to review the latest course content or plans to roll out a new sector website. It’s certainly very busy but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Our course offering is always expanding and our course delivery is continually changing and growing and we saw a 40% year on year rise in student enrolment. One area we are developing at the moment is a separate academy side of the business surrounding a beauty theme which is very exciting.
As technology evolves daily our business adjusts to fit and our video tutorials will be coming thick and fast in the next year as we move towards delivering 100% engaging content for our students.
During the last year we’re incredibly proud as we’ve been recognised many times for our high standards of Tutor support and training provision. One of the highlights in the last 12 months was being shortlisted for the TES FE Awards (Times Educational Supplement Further Education). These awards are for the traditional FE college sector and for a Distance Learning Provider to be shortlisted just demonstrates how far our business has come and how highly regarded we are in the education sector today. It’s not all about our achievement though, we also like to give back to the local community and we are immensely humbled to have hit our £50k fundraising target for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Don’t be ordinary Being ordinary doesn’t get you anywhere. We are setting new high level standards for the distance learning industry. Our business is getting noticed because we are delivering more in terms of course choice, quality and delivery than any other distance learning provider. Our founders, ecommerce director and development team are staying ahead of the technology curve by researching the latest technology.
Our developers love to work at the edge of new technologies, and are fascinated by emerging innovations. We have a competitive advantage as we work hard to retain our developers and keep them engaged by empowering them to come up with innovative solutions. We are embracing change, keeping agile in our forward planning as we adjust and adapting our courses to fit with Cloud and mobile developments.
Superiority reigns In the future distance learning providers will need a clear understanding of who their target market is. Students will demand more in terms of qualifications, support and customer service, providers will also have to be more responsive. It’s certainly time for a new era, for providers to prove their worth and superiority against sector competitors which now cover the globe. It will, in layman’s terms, through the provision of high quality and great service, see superiority reign.
Samantha Rutter is Chief Operating Officer at Open Study College, offering over 450 high quality courses through trusted providers and helping over 60,000 students study for qualifications.