A Pembrokeshire man has become the new director of the Open University in Wales.

Ben Lewis, from Fishguard, has been appointed as the new director of the pioneering distance learning education provider.

Ben joins the OU in Wales from Cardiff University where he was director of student Life. He succeeds Louise Casella who retired in June.

“The Open University is synonymous with the idea of lifelong learning,” said Ben.

“At its heart is the belief that education should be available to people wherever they are, and whatever their circumstances.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining the OU in Wales – our student numbers have never been higher, with government and decision makers recognising the value of part-time flexible higher education.”

Ben thanked David Price for his stewardship during the interim period, and said he had received a warm welcome from colleagues, students and stakeholders.

“It’s a privilege to be joining this team, and I look forward to playing my part in the next steps of the university’s future.”

Ben is originally from Fishguard. He studied International Politics at Aberystwyth University and was an elected students’ union officer there.

This was followed by time at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) where he was part of the Widening Access Policy Team and had responsibility for student support and lifelong learning funding. He then worked for the Electoral Commission as the principal officer for Wales working across the UK on the regulation of the political process and voter engagement.

Ben gas spent 19 years working at Cardiff University, most recently as director of student life.

This role included initiating and leading on development of the Centre for Student Life, a £60m service and physical transformation programme which completed in 2021.

During 2023 he was seconded to Welsh Government as a specialist policy advisor looking at improving support for HE student mental health.

Prior to this he worked on development of the South East Wales Student Mental Health Partnership.

Ben was a member of the Universities UK Mental Health in HE Group which initiated the development of the ‘Stepchange’ whole university mental health strategy model. He was a board member for AMOSSHE The Student Services Organisation for eight years and chair of the organisation from 2012 to 2016.

He was the first chair of the Wales Initiative for Student Engagement (WISE), a partnership between the sector and NUS Wales, from 2014 to 2017. He is the current Europe director of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services.

President of The Open University Student’s Association (OUSA), Swansea-based Margaret Greenaway said: “We want students to have a say in how their university is run, regardless of their background or where they live.

“We’re proud of the positive relationship OUSA has with the OU in Wales, and we’re sure this will continue during Ben’s time as director. A big welcome to him to the OU family.”