Policy Manager


16th June 2023

The Policy Manager will support the development and articulation of policy positions for The Open University (OU) on a broad range of government policies in England that are of relevance to the University and its students.

Developing and strengthening relationships with the internal experts across the OU whose expertise GEA draws upon to strengthen the evidence base underpinning our public policy submissions, messaging and recommendations is key to the role. Added to this, the postholder will support the provision of insightful analysis of developments in higher education, skills and lifelong learning and the opportunities and risks that these may present for the OU. They will also support the development of policy responses to UK Government consultations and parliamentary inquiries in England and the UK as well as briefings on key policy issues for senior colleagues.

The postholder will report to the Senior Policy Manager and work closely and collaboratively with the Government and External Affairs team as well as the wider Strategy Office. This is a varied and stimulating position in a small but highly effective team. It will demand a good understanding of the higher education sector in England, coupled with an awareness of the associated further education, adult learning and skills landscapes.

Key responsibilities

To note – while these main responsibilities relate specifically to higher education/adult skills policy in England, close collaboration with OU colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on policy issues will be required at all times.

To monitor and analyse the UK political landscape and funding environment, including legislative bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and provide insights to support the development of an effective understanding of new or developing policies that may be relevant/provide opportunities to the OU in England.

To work with the Senior Policy Manager and other members of the GEA team, led by the Head of Government and External Affairs, to communicate relevant external policy developments internally within the OU.

To maintain awareness of, and strengthen relationships with, key internal experts across the OU whose activities, research or capabilities GEA may usefully draw on to strengthen our external engagement, messaging, submissions and partnerships.

To capture and critique the value of OU information, case studies and analysis for potential use in OU submissions to Government and Parliament. This may involve direct engagement with experts in the Nation offices, Marketing, Finance, the wider Strategy Office, Business Development Unit, PVC Students, Research & Academic Strategy, Student Services, Academic Policy and Governance, and central academic units.

To support the drafting of policy position papers, articles and blogs for internal and external audiences.

To support the drafting of the OU’s responses to UK Government, Parliament and wider stakeholder inquiries and consultations.

To ensure consistency of the University’s internal and external policy positions across the four nations of the UK, by close working with OU colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To use internal mechanisms such as Committees, Groups and papers as a means of both relaying the implications of government policy for the University and its students and to seek input and decisions on policy asks, messages and ideas.

Skills and experience


• First degree or equivalent
• Strong public policy background and experience
• Good knowledge of policymaking with a real understanding of Whitehall and Westminster and the practicalities of policy development and legislation, as well as levers for change.
• Flexible, resourceful, highly motivated, confident and proactive.
• Excellent written and oral communication skills are essential with experience of writing in a professional capacity desirable.
• A good team player with the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues from other parts of the University and key external partners to obtain information and achieve results.
• Excellent analytical skills, confidently and authoritatively interpreting public policy and understanding and communicating the implications for the OU.
• Ability to communicate complex policy message to a range of audiences through a variety of channels.
• Adept at collecting internal data and responses, and packaging for external audiences as well as developing policy positions for the OU to adopt.
• Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines.
• Ability to think, plan and organise strategically and systematically, and monitor progress using effective controls and success criteria.
• Excellent understanding of the use of evidence in formulating and assessing policy options.
• Good interpersonal skills with an ability to establish and develop strong relationships outside and within the University.
• Great influencing skills and an ability to use a range of strategies to build trust and win support for the OU’s policy position, with an understanding of cultural, professional and other differences and the ability to actively encourage contributions from others.
• Experience of project management.
• A willingness to work flexible hours (some evenings and weekends).


• A strong understanding of the current challenges and opportunities within the higher education sector in England.
• An understanding of legislative bodies in Scotland, Wales and NI and experience of 4 Nation working.
• Excellent knowledge of the OU and its Units and Leaders.
• Experience of project management at the OU.

Closing date: 16 June 2023 – 12:00.

The Open University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion which is reflected in our mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We aim to foster a diverse and inclusive environment so that all in our OU community can reach their potential.  We recognise that different people bring different perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and culture, and that this difference brings great strength.  We strive to recruit, retain and develop the careers of a diverse pool of students and staff, and particularly encourage applications from all underrepresented groups. We also aspire to make The Open University a supportive workplace for all through our policies, services and staff networks.


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