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  4. Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students): Professor Ian Pickup

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students): Professor Ian Pickup

About the role

The PVC Students portfolio ensures that the needs and concerns of students are represented at the most senior level of the university and shared and addressed throughout the OU. The objective is to deliver:

  • High quality student outcomes (completion of modules, continuation through a programme of study and progression to further study or employment)

  • An improved student experience

  • The OU’s Access and Participation and Success Strategy, reducing outcomes and awarding gaps between students with different characteristics and backgrounds.

The PVC Students portfolio works very closely with OUSA on Student Voice and Student Engagement activities to achieve this, and with other key stakeholders across The OU, focussing on specific areas such as Assessment, Tuition, Readiness to Study, Quality Enhancement, Digital Inclusion, Employability, and Access. 

Ian's background

Ian is a passionate advocate for the role that universities play in society; originally a 'first generation' student, he understands the transformative potential of higher education across the life journeys of all learners. Ian gained a BA (with QTS) from the University of Warwick and holds a PhD in Education from the University of Roehampton. He is a National Teaching Fellow, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Professor of the Student Experience in Higher Education.   

Following roles as a schoolteacher, rugby player, development officer and coach, Ian's career in higher education started as an hourly paid lecturer at the University of Roehampton, where he progressed to become Principal Lecturer in the School of Education. He contributed to a diverse range of national and international initiatives in education, authoring key texts and journal articles. Ian was the UK partner in a European Union project centred on early years teacher education and supported the training of education practitioners working in post-disaster contexts.

Ian joined The OU in April 2023 from the University of East London, where he held the position of Pro Vice Chancellor (Education & Experience) and Chief Operating Officer – responsible for the leadership and delivery of all elements of the student experience. Prior to this, Ian was Deputy COO (Student and Academic Experience) at SOAS University of London, Head of the Student Experience at University College Cork, Ireland, and Director of Student Affairs at the University of Roehampton. 

Ian has held several external roles in higher education, sport and charities across his career. He is currently a trustee of 'LYR', a charity using the power of sport (in this case rowing) to change lives. He is a member of the Common Purpose London Advisory Board, and until recently was Chair of the London Higher Operations Network. Previous roles include Chair of the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland, advisory board member for the Higher Education Design Quality Forum, and board member of Pro-Active South London.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​