As a disabled person, the figures didn't really surprise me as it is an obvious choice. However, I did my BA and PGCE at a brick university and my Master's with the OU. I found the level of support and accessibility was leaps and bounds ahead with the Open University. Nothing is too much trouble, and I would imagine due to the inclusive, supportive nature of study, retention would be at a much higher level. It would be interesting to see those figures.
I think you might need to contextualise that John - I'm of an age where everyone is younger! How young were the younger students on the course you've just finished? What was the course? Did you enjoy it?
The pandemic has highlighted institutions who specialise in remote, off-site study. The OU has has naturally perfected this type of blended and flipped learning style, where the quality study materials are combined with regular tutorials and being assigned a dedicated tutor to assist during studies. This method of learning is here to stay and I feel if a nationwide survey was carried out there would be an overwhelming support for the method.
I was interested that ~75% of registered students were working either part-time or full-time. I think that's quite a amazing statistic. Especially since it seems that continual education to keep pace with changing society and technology are increasingly inevitable.