The Open University (OU) is a distance learning and research university funded by a combination of student fees, contract income, and allocations for teaching and research by the higher education funding bodies throughout the UK. With more than 250,000 students (including 50,000 overseas students) it is one of the largest universities in the world and is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom. While many students study off-campus, there are a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus alongside more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff.
Russell Partnership Collection have worked alongside The Open University for more than 15 years, and has been responsible for the creation and delivery of an estate-wide catering strategy. When initially engaged, a nil cost contract was in place that delivered poor financial performance, poor food quality and subsequently poor customer satisfaction. Russell Partnership Collection retendered the contract and found a long-term partner that was aligned strategically with the same goals as the Open University.
The result of the project has been a revolutionised offer that is recognised by staff, students and industry as best in class (including catering awards won), the relationship with the partner is honest and transparent and has reduced the subsidy contribution required by the Open University. The £7m redevelopment of the central food hub by Russell Partnership Collection has also provided more efficiency, cost savings and consistency of food products.