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Information for External Funders

Working with WELS?

About the Faculty

Research is at the heart of the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS), underpinning all our activities.

Our strong commitment to interdisciplinary research is grounded in outward-looking, sustainable academic communities that engage fully with impactful teaching, research and scholarship, maintaining strong links with professional bodies and industry.

The Faculty supports and hosts a large, interdisciplinary and international group of students. Our work is funded by external organisations including Research Councils (ESRC and AHRC), charities (such as Willen Hospice and World Vision), organisations (such as Leverhulme, the Globe Theatre, Public Health, England and Shell). We value partnership with organisations to develop future researchers and reserch-informed practitioners.

Research in WELS is internationally recognised. In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) it was endorsed as overwhelmingly world-leading and internationally excellent, with significant and wide-reaching impact, and located in an environment that supports world-leading quality research. Education research was ranked 2nd in the UK in terms of research power (which takes into account the quality of the submission and the number of people submitted).

WELS seeks to form partnerships with organisations in the UK and internationally. We aim to develop partnerships that are of benefit to both the partner institutions and The Open University.

Why fund a research degree?

Funding (or co-funding) a PhD studentship provides an opportunity for bespoke research projects to be undertaken by a student linked to an issue of relevance and value to your organisation or research. As a partner in the project you would be involved in the recruitment of a student to undertake the project.

Funding for a professional doctorate – either a professional doctorate in education (EdD) or in health and social care (DHSC) entails an organisation committing to fund an existing employee through the research degree. This provides an excellent opportunity for an employee to undertake research that develops their capacity as a research-informed practitioner – and enables the organisation to benefit from the knowledge produced.

How co-funding works

Our Director of Postgraduate Studies will work closely with you to reach an agreement on producing a viable proposal for a piece of research that addresses the aims of your organisation as well as the requirements of the PhD or professional doctorate programme. As the external funder you can decide the extent to which you want your involvement advertised in relation to supporting a particular studentship.

To ensure the quality of students undertaking research the University has strict requirements for research degree applicants. You will be involved and consulted about the recruitment of the student. All academic judgements on appointment and progress through the course of study remain with the University.

Benefits of funding a research degree studentship

If you choose to work with us to fund a studentship you will be benefitting from working with people who are passionate about your subject area, about knowledge transfer and about improving practice for professionals and service users.

Other benefits may include:

  • The development of your own organisation's research capacity
  • Cutting-edge research specifically tailored to your own organisation
  • Free access for a member of staff to The Open University’s library which holds 15,000 e-journal titles
  • Your research being presented to a wide range of professional, academic and public audiences
  • Your research being published in one of the best UK university open research repositories which means your research will join articles that are open to the general public to view
  • The innovative and rigorous research generated by WELS and CREET
  • Working with academic experts with fresh insight and advice
  • Having a dedicated contact point to support the development of your project with WELS
  • Receiving support throughout the project

WELS provides an exciting research environment for our researchers, including use of the Jennie Lee Labs.

Current and previous partners

OurPhD student community has been supported by external partners including:

What else does The Open University offer?