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Business School recognised in AACSB’s ‘Innovations That Inspire’ initiative

The Open University Business School has been recognised in AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) International’s Innovations That Inspire member spotlight programme which highlights impactful and visionary institutions creating value for tomorrow’s business world.

The accolade was awarded thanks to the pioneering work by academics in The Open University’s Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL) and the Department for Policing Organisation and Practice (POP), working alongside policing partners to create and share knowledge to improve policing. This academic/practical collaboration uses high-quality knowledge to support evidence-based practice and seeks to provide academic and practical perspectives on a range of challenges, research questions and educational opportunities. 

In 2014, The Open University leveraged its academic expertise and existing relationships with policing bodies to set up CPRL which now works with 24 police forces across the UK, covering two-thirds of the country’s policing workforce. 

Through partnership, both academics and policing practitioners can achieve far greater impact than by working in isolation, and the early successes experienced by the teams expedited the development of an ambitious 10-year strategy.  The team have had notable successes in launching a highly effective and innovative policing degree program with North Yorkshire Police, and in undertaking research which has improved both operational and organisational aspects of policing. The academic team build on synergies between research, education and knowledge exchange 

Jean Hartley, Professor of Public Leadership at The Open University and Academic Director of the Centre for Policing Research and Learning, said:

Academics and police practitioners have together developed a trusting and collaborative relationship in which to challenge each other and be highly creative together, ensuring work is rigorous and relevant. We have developed theory as well as practice about how this works for the good of society.

Policing in the UK is currently facing exceptionally tough challenges and at the OU we are pleased to be able to contribute to finding ways to help policing improve through evidence-informed work, and through getting knowledge into practice.  We do this by drawing on knowledge not only about policing but also other public services and other sectors from across the Business School. I am very proud of the team we have in the OU.” 

The OU’s POP department have worked in collaboration with police in England and Wales to co-develop a number of police education programmes. For new recruits, the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, the Degree Holder Entry Programme, the Special Constables learning programme and an apprenticeship for Police Community Support Officers, all form part of the OU police education portfolio and offer formal qualifications for students. The programmes are focused on a breadth and depth of police specific learning to support the skills and knowledge needed for a policing career. The programmes are designed so that police students can study in parallel with working as a police practitioner, and the OU’s approach more than paid off during the pandemic with its innovative approach to blended learning.  The team also provide continuing professional development for practitioners as they move through their policing career. 

Jennifer Norman, Head of Policing Organisation and Practice at The Open University, said:

Thank you to the AACSB for this recognition. We are extremely proud to receive this award highlighting policing excellence. We continue to work very hard to develop police education to the highest standard and quality. We ensure that research and knowledge on contemporary policing issues is fully embedded into our curriculum and importantly, we work in close collaboration with our police partners to make sure the learning supports practitioners in the best way.”  

AACSB is the world’s largest business education alliance and one of the accreditors that give The Open University Business School its elite triple accreditation status. 

“New demands from stakeholders require reimagined business school initiatives, and The Open University Business School demonstrates a fresh way forward for business education,” said Caryn Beck-Dudley, AACSB president and CEO. “By leveraging innovation for knowledge co-creation, new methods of learning, and expanded educational access, business schools are meeting market expectations and increasing value for businesses, learners, and society.”

Now in its eighth year, the Innovations That Inspire initiative has recognised 214 business school efforts that exemplify forward-looking approaches to education, research, community engagement, entrepreneurship, leadership, and diversity and inclusion. Support for the 2023 Innovations That Inspire member spotlight program is provided by Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business.  

More insights and examples are available at

The Open University triple accreditation logos

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