Former Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) director of comms Lucian Hudson joined The Open University this week.
In his new role, he heads up a 48-strong team covering media relations, internal comms, digital, community relations and government relations.
Hudson said: 'We can do more to harness the power of digital technology to communicate with students and to give them more access to quality education.
'We're going to take communications to a new level in terms of engaging with students.'
In his new role, Hudson replaces Derek Prior, who is retiring.
The Open University currently has more than 264,000 students learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content and web-based forums and tutorials, as well as by attending tutor groups and residential schools.
It is now one of the UK's leading e-learning institutions, with an 'open content portfolio' including free study units on OpenLearn and free content on iTunes' education service iTunes U.
Hudson was FCO comms director from 2006 to 2008, before which he was the Government's first-ever director of e-communications and worked at the Cabinet Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.
Since stepping down, he has worked as partner and MD at 'business transformation company' Cornerstone Global Associates.
Last June, Hudson took up a role as head of TLG's crisis management division, where he also advised client GlaxoSmithKline. Hudson committed 'up to three days a week' to the venture. This placement has since been completed.
Hudson has also served as chairman of three non-profit organisations, including a current position as chairman of Liberal Judaism.