He has been in the role for five years, and leaves to take on the same position at RMIT in his native Australia.
Formerly known as the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, RMIT is Australia’s largest tertiary institution, and is based in the city in which Mr Bean was born. His extended family still lives in the area.
“I am so proud of what we have achieved together during a time of unprecedented change in technology, the higher education sector and for the OU itself,” Mr Bean said.
“While I look forward to the challenges of my new role, and to my family being closer together, I leave with a very real sense of sadness. However, my overpowering feeling is one of deep gratitude, because no organisation, no group of people, has ever meant so much to me.”
During his time in charge, Mr Bean oversaw the launch of the UK’s biggest Mooc platform, FutureLearn, and made the OU the first UK university to make its entire undergraduate curriculum available on mobile devices.
He has also presided over controversial changes, including the decision to more than triple the OU’s fees in the wake of the government’s higher education reforms, and most recently plans to close one of its regional centres.
Before joining the OU, he was general manager in the Worldwide Education Products Group at technology giant Microsoft.
Lord Haskins of Skidby, pro-chancellor of the OU, described Mr Bean as “a tireless advocate for opening up access to education”.
“His leadership and guidance over the last five years has meant the OU has not only weathered storms which have swept through the sector, but left the university in an excellent position to look to the future,” he said. “His passion for the university and everything it stands for is unquestionable, and I thank him for the dedication, expertise and vision he has brought to the role over the years.”
RMIT chancellor Ziggy Switkowski said that “having successfully managed higher education reform amid the widespread regulatory changes within the UK system in recent years, he is perfectly positioned to lead RMIT” given the changes being made in Australia, where fees are being uncapped.
In an interview with Times Higher Education in October last year, Mr Bean said: “Anyone who grows up in Australia has an immense sense of being a long way from the rest of the world. I was therefore destined to end up travelling around, although I had no idea that my journey would take me to quite so many countries.” He will commence his new role, in his home town, in February next year.