Open University

« Back to Glossary Index

The Open University was established by Royal Charter on 23 April 1969. It is the leading university for flexible, innovative teaching and world-leading research in the United Kingdom and have students studying with us in 157 countries worldwide.

Uniquely placed to understand the needs of part-time students, combining their learning while earning, our innovative, award-winning distance teaching credentials have seen over 2 million students receive an education, otherwise denied to them at campus-based universities.

When The Open University was set up nearly 50 years ago, its mission was a radical one in the
world of higher education (HE), helping the UK to make a shift from an elite to a mass system.
As that mass HE moves to become a universal over the next few years the university aims to be radical again to secure its future and deliver its mission. The university’s commitment to create educational opportunities and social mobility for all who seek to realize their ambitions and fulfil their potential remains as strong as ever.

Open University students are not just in the UK. Most courses are available throughout Europe and some worldwide – and many more are available through our partnerships and accredited institutions. Many courses are available through the MOOC platform. There is no typical OU student. People of all ages and backgrounds study with us, for all sorts of reasons – to update their skills, get a qualification, boost their career, change direction, prove themselves, or keep mentally active.

Interesting Facts About the Open University:

  1. The Open University was founded in 1969 and took its first 24,000 students in 1971.
  2. The Archers, Brookside, Ever Decreasing Circles, Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart have all had OU students written into their plots.
  3. One of actress Julie Walters’ first major film roles was portraying an OU student opposite Michael Caine in Educating Rita.
  4. The OU is the largest provider of law graduates in the UK
  5. The OU is one of a handful of universities to have won University Challenge twice, in 1985 and 1999, and is in joint third position in the all-time points list.
  6. Well-known names who have tutored for the OU include former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, actress Glenda Jackson and broadcaster Anna Ford
  7. In 2018 the OU held 29 degree ceremonies in towns and cities across the UK and Ireland.
  8. The OU is the UK’s only university dedicated to distance learning, and is the only UK university to have a significant presence in all four nations.
  9. The OU has had a partnership with the BBC for 48  years and co-produces around 30 TV and radio series a year with the BBC. Recent examples include: Blue Planet 1 & 2, Civilisations, The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, The Prosecutors, NHS:A People’s History, Inside Science, All in the Mind, More or Less, Thinking Allowed and The Bottom Line.
« Back to Glossary Index