Milton Keynes-based Open University receives Queen’s Anniversary Prize at Buckingham Palace

    The Open University was presented with a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education by Her Majesty The Queen today.

    It was announced in November that the OU had been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its OpenSTEM Labs initiative – the highest national Honour in higher and further education.

    The formal Honours ceremony took place today at Buckingham Palace where the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Blackman and Executive Dean of the STEM Faculty Professor Nick Braithwaite were presented with the award from Her Majesty The Queen.

    The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the national Honours system, recognising outstanding work by UK universities and colleges that demonstrate excellence, innovation and well-evidenced benefit for education, the economy and the wider world.

    The OpenSTEM Labs are online facilities that allow students from anywhere in the world to participate in authentic experimental work, acquiring real data interactively as if they were at a laboratory, observatory or field site location. 

    Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “This is a tremendous honour for The Open University and the team responsible for the OpenSTEM labs. The award recognises our commitment to innovation and excellence in delivering quality distance learning for all. This is a very proud moment for the University.”

    Professor Nick Braithwaite, Executive Dean of the STEM Faculty and founding Director of the Labs, said: “By creating the OpenSTEM Labs as “an Internet of Laboratory Things” we have realised our vision for inclusive and accessible facilities for practical work in The Open University’s distance-learning setting. This award is a fitting tribute to the efforts of the team and we look forward to further developing OpenSTEM Labs in conjunction with our new OpenXR Studios, bringing the power of VR and AR to distance-learning.”

    Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of Royal Anniversary Trust, said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education are an integral part of our national Honours system, shining a light on the groundbreaking work taking place in universities and colleges across the UK. All 22 Prize-winners demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact, with many tackling some of the toughest problems we as a society face today. They are to be commended for reaching this pinnacle of achievement in the tertiary education sector. Congratulations!”

    Prizes are granted every two years by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister following a rigorous and independent process of review carried out by The Royal Anniversary Trust, an independent charity. 

    In a letter congratulating this year’s winners, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote: “The UK has a long and proud history of research, discovery and excellence in education and training. I am delighted that the 2022-2024 winners are continuing that tradition. The sheer breadth and variety of the work is impressive. In health, robotics, space, engineering, sustainability, animal welfare, photonics, skills and training, the English wine industry and more, you are pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve.

    Thanks to your ingenuity, your dedication, and your hard work we are making real progress in science, transforming public health, growing the economy, and improving and enriching people’s lives.”

    For more information about the Open STEM Labs, visit website.

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