Open University launches free online courses for voluntary sector » Charity Digital News

Open University launches free online courses for voluntary sector


The Open University Business School has launched its first free online course as part of the newly established Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership.

It’s hoped the philanthropically funded centre will become a primary resource for voluntary sector organisations giving access to leadership development modules and research-led insight.

The first free module, also known as a Badged Open Course (BOC), is Introducing the Voluntary Sector. It is an eight-week course covering the context and features of voluntary and community organisations including the structure and history of the UK voluntary sector; values and beliefs; funding issues; understanding stakeholders and beneficiaries; power and empowerment; and the role of volunteering.


Free resource website

The course will be hosted on the OU’s free open educational resource website OpenLearn and is aimed at learners working (or aspiring to work) as paid members of staff or as volunteers in voluntary or community organisations. The second course, Working in the Voluntary Sector, will be available later this year.

The Centre will build on existing specialist research expertise and capability in the voluntary sector, public leadership and social enterprise. Its mission is to:

  • Establish The Open University Business School as a trusted source of expertise in leadership development thinking for the voluntary sector in the UK.
  • Lead on new areas of research where there are significant leadership knowledge and solutions-based gaps.
  • Provide free and flexible leadership development opportunities that meet the priority needs of the sector.
  • Ensure that all best practice and new thinking is disseminated as effectively as possible.

There will be an official event in October to mark the launch of the centre and to announce two further free courses on leadership development and collaborative leadership currently under development. The event will also be an opportunity to share the developing research agenda.


Shifting expectations

Professor Siv Vangen, director of the Centre Voluntary Sector Leadership explained why such an educational resource is vital for the sector. “Over the last decade, the voluntary sector has been increasingly challenged by austerity measures and the shifting expectations of what support the voluntary sector can, could and should provide. Leaders and senior managers of organisations, whether paid or unpaid, are increasingly required to operate in a highly competitive, increasingly commercialised context.”

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