HOME

TheInfoList




The Open University (OU) is a British
public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Engli ...
research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in va ...
and the largest university in the UK by number of students. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study off-
campus A campus is traditionally the land on which a college A college (Latin: ''collegium'') is an educational institution or a University system, constituent part of one. A college may be a academic degree, degree-awarding Tertiary education, t ...

campus
; many of its courses (both
undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education and prior to postgraduate education. It typically includes all postsecondary programs up to the level of a bachelor's degree. For example, in the United States, an entry-level ...
and
postgraduate Postgraduate education (graduate education in North America) involves learning and studying for Academic degree, academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications ...
) can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-
hectare The hectare (; SI symbol: ha) is a non-SI metric unit of area Area is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms o ...

hectare
university campus in
Milton Keynes Milton Keynes ( ) is the largest settlement in Buckinghamshire, England, north-west of London. At the 2011 Census, the population of Milton Keynes urban area, its urban area was almost . The River Great Ouse forms its northern boundary; a t ...
, where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff. The OU was established in 1969 and was initially based at
Alexandra Palace Alexandra Palace is a listed building, Grade II listed entertainment and sports venue in London, situated between Wood Green and Muswell Hill in the London Borough of Haringey. It is built on the site of Tottenham Wood and the later Tottenham W ...

Alexandra Palace
, north London, using the television studios and editing facilities which had been vacated by the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of ...

BBC
. The first students enrolled in January 1971. The university administration is now based at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, in
Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire (), abbreviated Bucks, is a ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are areas of Eng ...

Buckinghamshire
, but has administration centres in other parts of the United Kingdom. It also has a presence in other European countries. The university awards undergraduate and postgraduate
degrees Degree may refer to: As a unit of measurement * Degree symbol (°), a notation used in science, engineering, and mathematics * Degree (angle), a unit of angle measurement * Degree (temperature), any of various units of temperature measurement ...
, as well as non-degree qualifications such as
diploma A diploma is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as college or university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study. The word diploma also refers to an academic award w ...

diploma
s and certificates or
continuing education Continuing education (similar to further education in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Brit ...
units. With more than 175,000 students enrolled, including around 34% of new undergraduates aged under 25 and more than 7,700 overseas students, it is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom (and one of the largest in Europe) by student number, and qualifies as one of the
world's largest universities The following is a list of largest universities in the world by country listing only the largest university in each country. This is not a list of largest individual campuses with in-person (non-distance) enrollment. This list includes distance enr ...
. Since it was founded, more than 2 million students have studied its courses. The Open University is one of only two United Kingdom higher education institutions to gain
accreditation Accreditation is a third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body (such as certification body, inspection body or laboratory) conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks (such ...
in the United States of America by the
Middle States Commission on Higher Education The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (abbreviated as MSCHE and legally incorporated as the Mid-Atlantic Region Commission on Higher Education) is a voluntary, peer-based, non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known ...
, an institutional accrediting agency, recognised by the
United States Secretary of Education The United States secretary of education is the head of the United States Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States, and the federal government, on ...
and the
Council for Higher Education Accreditation The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in Nor ...
. The BSc (Honours) Computing and IT course is accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and quality assured by the European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education (EQANIE). The OU won the Teaching Excellence and Digital Innovation categories in ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' University Awards 2018. In 2018–19 the OU had a £2.77 billion impact on the UK economy. It also produces more CEOs than any other UK university, including universities such as
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' u ...
,
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
,
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
and the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
. Former UK Prime Minister
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the h ...

Gordon Brown
, astrophysicist
Jocelyn Bell Burnell Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (; born 15 July 1943) is an astrophysics, astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first Radio Pulsar, radio pulsars in 1967. The discovery eventually earned the Nobel P ...

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
, broadcaster
Anna Ford Anna Ford (born 2 October 1943) is an English former journalist, television presenter and newsreader. She first worked as a researcher, news reporter and later newsreader for Granada Television, ITN, and the BBC. Ford helped launch the British b ...
and actress
Glenda Jackson Glenda May Jackson (born 9 May 1936) is a British actress and politician. She has won the Academy Award for Best Actress The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A ...

Glenda Jackson
are among a host of well-known names who have tutored for the OU.


History

The Open University was founded by the
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government under Prime Minister
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
. Wilson was a strong advocate, using the vision of Michael Young. Planning commenced in 1965 under Minister of State for Education Jennie Lee, who established a model for the OU as one of widening access to the highest standards of scholarship in higher education, and set up a planning committee consisting of university vice-chancellors, educationalists and television broadcasters, chaired by Sir Peter Venables. The British Broadcasting Corporation (
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of ...

BBC
) Assistant Director of Engineering at the time James Redmond, had obtained most of his qualifications at
night school A night school is an adult learning school that holds classes in the evening or at night to accommodate people who work during the day. A community college A community college is a type of educational institution An educational institution i ...
, and his natural enthusiasm for the project did much to overcome the technical difficulties of using television to broadcast teaching programmes. Wilson envisaged The Open University as a major marker in the Labour Party's commitment to modernising British society. He believed that it would help build a more competitive economy while also promoting greater equality of opportunity and social mobility. The planned utilisation of television and radio to broadcast its courses was also supposed to link The Open University to the technological revolution underway, which Wilson saw as a major ally of his modernisation schemes. However, from the start Lee encountered widespread scepticism and even opposition from within and without the Labour Party, including senior officials in the
Department of Education and Science An education ministry is a national or subnational government agency politically responsible for education. Various other names are commonly used to identify such agencies, such as Ministry of Education, Department of Education, and Ministry of Publ ...
(DES), her departmental head
Anthony Crosland Charles Anthony Raven Crosland (29 August 191819 February 1977), known as Anthony Crosland, Tony Crosland or C. A. R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. Crosland served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershir ...
, the Treasury, ministerial colleagues, such as
Richard Crossman Richard Howard Stafford Crossman (15 December 1907 – 5 April 1974), sometimes known as Dick Crossman, was a British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party politician. A university classics lecturer by profession, he was elected a Member of Parli ...

Richard Crossman
and commercial broadcasters. The Open University was realised due to Lee's unflagging determination and tenacity in 1965–67, the steadfast support from Wilson, and the fact that the anticipated costs, as reported to Lee and Wilson by Arnold Goodman, seemed very modest. By the time the actual, much higher costs became apparent, it was too late to scrap the fledgling university. The university was granted a
royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or ...

royal charter
by the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
on 23 April 1969.


Organisation and administration


Staff

The majority of staff are part-time associate lecturers and, as of the 2009–10 academic year, almost 8,000 work for the OU. There are also 1,286 (mostly full-time) salaried academic employees (central academics based at Walton Hall and staff tutors based in a variety of regional locations) who are research active and responsible for the production and presentation of teaching materials, 1,931 who are academic-related and 1,902 support staff (including secretaries and technicians). Salaries are the OU's main cost—over £275 million for the 2009–2010 academic year. In 2010 the OU became one of the ''Sunday Times'' Best Places to Work in the Public Sector.


Credit union

Open University Employees Credit Union is a savings and loans
co-operative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российск ...
established by the university for staff in 1994. A member of the
Association of British Credit Unions The Association of British Credit Unions Limited, commonly known as ABCUL, is the leading trade association for credit unions in Great Britain. ABCUL represents around 70% of credit unions who in turn provide services to 85% of the British credit u ...
, it is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the
Financial Conduct Authority The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is a financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Tel ...
and the PRA. Ultimately, like the banks and building societies, members’ savings are protected against business failure by the
Financial Services Compensation Scheme The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the UK's statutory Deposit insurance and investors compensation scheme for customers of authorised financial services firms. This means that FSCS can pay compensation if a firm is unable, or lik ...
.


Academic divisions


Faculties

In 2016, the university reorganised its departments and now operates with the Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS); the Faculty of Business and Law (FBL); the faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); and the faculty of Wellbeing, Education, Languages and Sport (WELS). It also runs Open and Access programmes via PVC-Students, and programmes from Institute of Educational Technology (IET) via WELS.


Business school

In 1982, Open University offered a course titled, "The Effective Manager", developed by a team that was led by
Charles Handy Charles Handy CBE (born 25 July 1932) is an Irish author/philosopher specialising in organisational behaviour and management. Among the ideas he has advanced are the " portfolio career" and the " Shamrock Organization" (in which professional c ...
. After the reported success of the course, Derek S. Pugh proposed the establishment of a business school. In 1988, the Open University Business School (OUBS) was founded by the Faculty of Management department, for which professor Andrew Thomson was appointed to head. Thomson's main goal was the offering of an MBA programme, which was eventually funded through a grant from the DES. In 1989, the first class of MBA students were enrolled. The Open University Business School is accredited by the international accrediting bodies
AACSB The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, also known as AACSB International, is an American professional organization A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional societ ...
, , and
EQUIS The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is a school accreditation Educational accreditation is a quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated and verified by an external b ...
. It was placed in the top 1% of UK business schools after having received
Triple Crown accreditation Triple accreditation, also known as Triple Crown accreditation, is the combination of accreditations held by 100 business schools worldwide (less than 1% of all business schools in the world), awarded by the three largest and most influential busin ...

Triple Crown accreditation
. Some selected rankings: * The OU Business School's MBA programme was ranked 13th in the ''
Financial Times The ''Financial Times'' (''FT'') is a daily newspaper printed in broadsheet and published digitally that focuses on business and economic Current affairs (news format), current affairs. Based in London, England, the paper is owned by a Japanese ...
''’ global rankings of online and distance learning MBA providers which featured five
European schools The European Schools ( la, Schola Europaea) is an intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations ...
, four of which were in the UK. * Ranked fifth in the Global Online MBA Rankings by CEO Magazine and 1st for UK institutions (2019) * Ranked sixth in the world for the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings (2016)


Singapore Institute of Management Open University Centre

From 1992 to 2005, the
Singapore Institute of Management The Singapore Institute of Management (abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Ro ...
(SIM) ran the Open University Degree Programme (OUDP), in collaboration with The Open University, United Kingdom (OUUK), which was re-named the Singapore Institute of Management's Open University Centre (SIM-OUC) as one of SIM's autonomous entity. In 2005, after SIM formed
SIM University SIM University (Abbreviation: UniSIM) was a private university in Singapore from 2005 to 2017. The university was established and managed under the Singapore Institute of Management Group (SIM). It was the only Singapore's private university afte ...
(UniSIM), it took over SIM-OUC students and granted those who graduated in 2006 a choice between a UniSIM or OUUK degree.


Academic profile


Teaching methods

The OU uses a variety of methods for teaching, including written and audio materials, the Internet, disc-based software and television programmes on
DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital elect ...

DVD
. Course-based television broadcasts by the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of ...

BBC
, which started on 3 January 1971, ceased on 15 December 2006. Materials comprise originally authored work by in-house and external academic contributors, and from third-party materials licensed for use by OU students. For most modules, students are supported by tutors ("associate lecturers") who provide feedback on their work and are generally available to them at face-to-face tutorials, by telephone, and/or on the Internet. A number of short courses worth ten
credits Credit refers to any form of deferred payment, the granting of a loan and the creation of debt. Credit may also refer to: Places * Credit, Arkansas, a ghost town Arts, entertainment, and media * Credit (creative arts), acknowledging the ideas o ...
are now available that do not have an assigned tutor but offer an online conferencing service (
Internet forum An Internet forum, or message board, is an online In computer technology and telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over , radio, , or other systems. It has its origin ...
) where help and advice is offered through conferencing "moderators". Some modules have mandatory day schools. Nevertheless, it is possible to be excused on the basis of ill-health (or other extenuating circumstances) and many courses have no mandatory face-to-face component. Similarly, some modules have traditionally offered week-long summer schools offering an opportunity for students to remove themselves from the general distractions of their life and focus on their study for a short time. Over the past ten years the university has adopted a policy of separating residential modules from distance-full-time taught modules. Exemption from attendance at residential schools, always as an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE), is sometimes available for disabled students and others who find it impossible to attend in person (See "Qualifications-Undergraduate" section.) For many years the OU produced television and radio programmes aimed at bringing learning to a wider audience. In its early years most of these were in the form of documentaries or filmed lectures. Latterly, most OU-associated programming was mainstream and broadcast in peak hours, including series such as '' Rough Science'' and "Battle of the Geeks", while older-style programming was carried in the
BBC Learning Zone The BBC Learning Zone (previously The Learning Zone) was an educational strand run by the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London Lo ...
. In 2004 the OU announced it was to stop its late-night programmes on
BBC Two BBC Two is a British free-to-air Free-to-air (FTA) services are television Television, sometimes shortened to TV or telly, is a telecommunication Media (communication), medium used for transmitting moving images in grayscale, blac ...

BBC Two
, and the last programme was broadcast at 5.30am on 16 December 2006. The OU now plans to focus on semi-academic television programmes, such as many now broadcast on
BBC Four BBC Four is a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and commo ...

BBC Four
. The
Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Quality may refer to: Concepts *Quality (business), the ''non-inferiority'' or ''superiority'' of something *Quality (philosophy), an attribute or a property *Quality (physics), in response theory *Energy quality, used in various science discipli ...
review published in December 2015 found five areas of good practice and made three recommendations for improvement. The English national survey of student satisfaction has twice put the Open University in first place. In October 2006, the OU joined the
open educational resources Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed instructional materials Instructional materials, also known as teaching/learning materials (TLM), are any collection of materials including animate and inanimate objects ...
movement with the launch of
OpenLearn OpenLearn is an educational website. It is the UK's Open University's contribution to the Open educational resources (OER) project and the home of free, open learning from The Open University. The original project was part-funded by the William ...
. A growing selection of current and past distance learning course materials will be released for free access, including downloadable versions for educators to modify (under the
Creative Commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a colle ...

Creative Commons
BY-NC-SA A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright license A public license or public copyright licenses is a license by which a copyright holder as licensor can grant additional copyright permissions to any and all person ...

BY-NC-SA
licence), plus free collaborative learning-support tools. In the early 2000s, the OU researched the use of virtual worlds in teaching and learning, and had two main islands in
Second Life ''Second Life'' is an on-line multimedia platform that allows people to create an avatar (computing), avatar for themselves and have a second life in an online virtual world. Developed and owned by the San Francisco-based firm Linden Lab an ...

Second Life
. In May 2009 these regions formed the basis of a case study by Linden Lab, the company which owns Second Life. In mid-2010, the university led the list of contributing universities in the number of downloads of its material from the educational resources site
iTunes U The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media Digital media means any that operate with the use of any of various encoded formats. Digital media can be created, viewed, distributed, modified, listened to, and preserved on a s ...
, with downloads of over 20 million. Open University continues to adopt
Moodle Moodle is a free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any w ...

Moodle
as the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with their own team deploying custom plugins. In 2013, the OU began a
massive open online course A massive open online course (MOOC ) is an online course Educational technology (commonly abbreviated as EduTech, or EdTech) is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and Education sciences, educational theory and practice to facili ...
(MOOC) platform called FutureLearn, which is the UK's largest provider of free online courses.


Assessment methods

Open University modules are often assessed using an equal weighting of examinations and coursework. The coursework component normally takes the form of between two and seven tutor marked assignments (TMAs) and, occasionally, may also include up to six multiple-choice or "missing word" 10-question interactive computer marked assignments (iCMAs). The examinable component is usually an invigilated three-hour paper regardless of the size of the module (although on some modules it can be up to three three-hour papers), but an increasing number of modules instead have an EMA (End of Module Assessment) which is similar to a TMA, in that it is completed at home, but is regarded as an exam for grading purposes. Modules results are sometimes issued on a graded basis, consisting of pass grades 1 (threshold 85%, a distinction), 2 (70–84%), 3 (55–69%) & 4 (40–54%), and fail (below 40%). This grade is calculated as the lower of the overall continuous assessment score (OCAS) and overall examination score (OES). These grades can be weighted according to their level, and combined to calculate the classification of a degree. An undergraduate degree will weight level 3 modules twice as much as level 2, and in postgraduate programmes all M level modules are equally weighted.


Qualifications


Undergraduate

Open University modules have associated with them a number of
Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) is used by many universities A university () is an of (or ) and which awards s in several . Universities typically offer both and programs in different schools or faculties of learning. The wo ...
(CATS) credits – usually 30 or 60 – depending on the quantity of the material in the module and a level (1, 2, 3, or 4) corresponding to the complexity, with 120 credits roughly equating to the year of study for a full-time student. The OU offers a large number of undergraduate qualifications, including certificates, diplomas, and bachelor's degrees, based on both level and quantity of study. An OU
undergraduate degree An undergraduate degree (also called first degree or simply degree) is a colloquial term for an academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usual ...
requires 300 (or 360 for honours) CATS credits. Students are generally advised not to undertake more than 60 credits per year, meaning that an undergraduate degree will take typically six years to complete. With the exception of some degrees in fast moving areas (such as computing) there is generally no limit on the time which a student may take. Students need special permission to take more than 120 credits (equivalent to full-time study) at any time; such permission is not usually granted. Originally the BA was the only undergraduate degree, and it was unnamed. The modern OU grants degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA), Science (BSc), Laws (LLB) and Engineering (BEng); the BA and BSc may be named (following a specified syllabus) or unnamed (constructed of courses chosen by the student) degrees. Many OU faculties have now introduced short modules worth ten credits. Most of these modules are taught online, and start at regular intervals throughout the year. They typically provide an introduction to a broader subject over a period of ten weeks, these are generally timed during vacations at conventional universities in order to take advantage of their facilities. Some science modules, which require only home study, are complemented by residential courses, in order to allow the student to gain practical laboratory experience in that field; typically, an award of degree or diploma will require completion of both. Different modules are run at different times of the year, but, typically, a 30 or 60 credit module will run either from October to June or from February to October. Assessment is by both continual assessment (with, normally, between four and eight assignments during the year) and, for most, a final examination or, on some modules, a major assignment.


= Open degree

= As well as degrees in named subjects, the Open University also grants multidisciplinary "Open" degrees. Open degrees provide students with access to a wide variety of subjects to develop a personalised curriculum to meet their vocational needs and personal interests. The Open degree may be awarded as a Bachelor of Arts Open, a Bachelor of Science Open (either with or without honours), a Master of Arts Open or a Master of Science Open. The Open degree is the most popular qualification at the university. Around 20,000 students are enrolled in this programme, which makes the Open University the UK's largest multidisciplinary education provider. As of 2018, over 236,000 alumni have graduated with an Open degree.


= Other qualifications

= The Open University grants undergraduate ''Certificates'' (abbreviated Cert) typically awarded after 60 completed credits at Level 1 or Level 3 (where each credit corresponds to roughly 10 hours of study, therefore 60 credits represent about 600 hours of effort), ''Diplomas'' (abbreviated Dip) after 120 credits – typically 60 credits at Level 2 and 60 credits at Level 3. Open University also awards '' Foundation degrees'' (abbreviated FD). OU also offers a limited number of CertHE (120 CATS) and DipHE (240 CATS).


Postgraduate

The Open University provides the opportunity to study for a
PhD A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known a ...
on a part-time distance, or a full-time basis (on-site for science subjects and most social sciences, off-site with some supervisions on-site for arts) in a wide range of disciplines as well as an EdD for professionals in education. Since 2019 the Open University has also offered a professional doctorate for healthcare workers. The university offers a range of
Master's A master's degree (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...
levels modules such as the
MBA A Master of Business Administration (MBA; also Master's in Business Administration) is a graduate degree Postgraduate education (graduate education in North America) involves learning and studying for Academic degree, academic or profession ...
and
MPA MPA or mPa may refer to: Academia Academic degrees * Master of Performing Arts * Master of Professional Accountancy * Master of Public Administration The Master of Public Administration (M.P.Adm., M.P.A., or MPA) is a professional gradu ...
, MSc, MA and MEd, and
MRes A Master of Research ( abbr. MRes, MARes, MScRes, or MScR) degree is an internationally recognised advanced postgraduate research degree. In most cases, the degree is designed to prepare students for doctoral The cover of the thesis presented b ...
, and a number of postgraduate diplomas and certificates including innovative practice-based modules and postgraduate computing qualifications for professionals. Postgraduate certificates are awarded for 60 credits of study on specified modules; postgraduate diplomas are awarded for 120 credits of study on specified modules. The university offers "Advanced Diplomas" that involve 60 credits at undergraduate level and 60 credits at postgraduate level – these are designed as "bridges" between undergraduate and postgraduate study.


Degree ceremonies

Unlike most United Kingdom universities, degree ceremonies at the Open University are not
graduation Graduation is the award of academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer d ...

graduation
ceremonies as such (the occasion on which degrees are ''formally'' conferred on those who have achieved substantive degrees)—although
honours degree Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education Secondary educat ...
s are also normally conferred on these occasions. The Open University degree ceremony is officially known as a "Presentation of Graduates" at which those who have already had a degree bestowed on them are presented to the
University Chancellor A chancellor is a leader of a college or university, usually either the executive or ceremonial head of the university or of a university campus within a university system. In most Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth and former Commonwealth na ...
or his/her representative. Open University graduates normally graduate ''
in absentia is Latin for absence. , a legal term, is Latin for "in the absence" or "while absent". may also refer to: * Award in absentia * Declared death in absentia, or simply, death in absentia, legally declared death without a body * Election in absen ...
'' at a joint meeting of the university's council and senate ("congregation") which takes place at a meeting entirely separate from the degree ceremony. The university's degree ceremonies occur throughout the year at various prestigious auditorium venues located throughout the United Kingdom, plus one each in
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
and . In the year 2010 the OU held 26 degree ceremonies including
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
,
Manchester Manchester () is the most-populous city and metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguis ...

Manchester
,
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
, Ely and
Versailles The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about west of Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, mo ...
. These ceremonies are presided over by a senior academic at Pro-Vice-Chancellor level or higher, and have the normal formal rituals associated with a graduation ceremony, including
academic dress Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or text ...

academic dress
,
procession A procession is an organized body of people walking in a formal or ceremonial manner. History Processions have in all peoples and at all times been a natural form of public celebration, as forming an orderly and impressive ceremony. Religious ...

procession
and university ceremonial mace, mace. In year 2000, the Open University was the first to host an online "virtual" graduation ceremony in the United Kingdom together with an audience at the OU's campus in Milton Keynes. Twenty-six students in eight countries, from the United States of America to Hong Kong, were presented for their master's degrees in the online graduation, including, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founders of the World Wide Web, whom was conferred an honorary doctorate.


Rankings

The university is included in major world university rankings such as Times Higher Education World University Rankings, U.S. News & World Report and Academic Ranking of World Universities. The OU ranked in the top third of UK universities in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 using the Times Higher Education Power Score. The Open University ranked third in National Student Survey 2021 achieving 88.24% for overall student satisfaction.


Research

Like other UK universities, the OU actively engages in research. The OU's Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute has become particularly well known to the public through its involvement in space missions. In October 2006, the Cassini-Huygens mission including 15 people from the OU received the 2006 "Laurels for Team Achievement Award" from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). Cassini-Huygens' successful completion of its seven-year, two billion-mile journey in January 2005 to Saturn ended with Huygens landing farther away from Earth than any previous probe or craft in the history of space exploration. The first instrument to touch Saturn's moon Titan was the ''Surface Science Package'' containing nine sensors to investigate the physical properties of Titan's surface. It was built by a team at the OU led by Professor John Zarnecki. The OU employs over 500 people engaged in research in over 25 areas, and there are over 1,200 research students. It spends approximately £20 million each year on research, around £6 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the remainder from external funders. The Open University also runs the Open Research Online (ORO) website. ORO is a collection of over 40,000 open access research outputs across a broad range of research areas.Open Research Online
accessed 21 September 2008, 2h03Z.
The Open University produced in collaboration with Springer Nature the Computer Science Ontology, which is a large-scale automatically generated Taxonomy (general), taxonomy of research topics in the field of Computer Science.


OpenScience Observatories

The OU operates a collection of telescopes and other instruments at the Teide Observatory, Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife. Its facilities compromise the COmpletely Autonomous Service Telescope (COAST), the Physics Innovations Robotic Telescope Explorer (PIRATE) and an associated weather station. At the Open University campus in Milton Keynes researches operate a radio telescope – ARROW (A Robotic Radio telescope Over the Web).


Students

In the 2019–20 academic year, there were 175,719 enrolled students.


Demographics

Enrollment numbers show a tremendous difference from 2009–2010 to 2016–2017. Most students were from England (99,834), while 14,903 were from Scotland, 6,668 from Wales, 3,667 from Northern Ireland and 4,900 from elsewhere in the European Union, plus others elsewhere. 60% of undergraduates were female, with 53% of those taking postgraduate modules being male. 22,664 of students in 2015–16 had declared disabilities. According to ''The Guardian'', the fall in the number of part-time students was accelerated in 2012 when tuition fees rose and there was limited financial support for part-time students. The Open University saw a 30% drop of part-time students between 2010–11 and 2015–16. While most of those studying are mature students, an increasingly large proportion of new undergraduates are aged between 17 and 25, to the extent that the OU now has more students in this age range than any other UK university.Meet the students , 18 to 24
Open University, accessed 2011-05-06
In the 2003–2004 academic year around 20% of new undergraduates were under 25, up from 12.5% in 1996–1997 (the year before top-up fees were announced). In 2010 approximately 55% of those under 25 were also in full-time employment. In 2010, 29,000 undergraduates were in this age range.New generation of part-time learners focus on career progression: 1 in 4 of new OU students is under 25 – 55% work full-time
Open University, published 2011-08-11, accessed 2011-05-06
By 2011, 32,000 undergraduates were under 25 years old, representing around 25% of new students. The majority of students in the 2015–16 academic year were aged between 25 and 34 years old, with the median age of new undergraduates being 28. As of 2014, the OU's youngest graduate was a fifteen-year-old boy from Wales who gained a BSc with First Class Honours in 2014. The OU works with some schools to introduce Advanced Level (UK), A-Level students to OU study and in 2009–10 3% of undergraduates were under 18 years old.


Courses

Unlike other universities, where students register for a programme, OU students register separately for individual modules (which may be 30 or 60 Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, CATS credits (and formerly available in 10, 15, or 20 credits), equivalent to 15 or 30 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, ECTS credits). These modules may then be linked into degree programmes. During the 2009–10 academic year social studies was the most popular study area (with 16,381 full-time equivalent students), followed by biological and physical sciences (12,357) and history, historical and philosophy, philosophical studies (8,686); student numbers even on smaller undergraduate programmes, such as creative arts and design are still significant (2,528) as are postgraduate registrations on programmes such as mass communications and documentation (123 full-time equivalent students). The most popular module during 2009–10 was ''DD101 An introduction to the social sciences'' (7,512 students), followed by ''AA100 The Arts Past and Present'', ''B120 An Introduction to Business Studies'', ''K101 An Introduction to Health and Social Care'' and ''Y163 Starting with Psychology''.


Fees and financial assistance

17,634 students received financial assistance towards their study in 2015–16. The typical cost for United Kingdom-based students of a Bachelor's
honours degree Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education Secondary educat ...
at the OU was between £3,780 and £5,130 in 2009–10. Timeline of tuition fees in the United Kingdom, From September 2012 the Government reduced its funding for all students residing in England and fees went up to compensate. English students pay higher fees than those living in the rest of the United Kingdom. The average cost of one full-time year or 120 credits rose to £6,336 in 2021, bringing the cost of an average Bachelor's
honours degree Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education Secondary educat ...
for an English student to £19,008. (European Union and international students pay more as the university does not receive government funding for them). The most important revenue stream to the Open University is now academic fees paid by the students, which totalled about £157 million in 2009–10 and £248 million in 2015–16.


Qualifications awarded

The university enrolled fewer than 50,000 students in the 1970–71 academic year, but it quickly exceeded that number by 1974–75. By 1987–88 yearly enrolment had doubled to 100,000 students, passing 200,000 by 2001–02 and 250,000 in 2009–10. Numbers fell when the fee regime changed. Cumulatively, by the end of 2009–10 the OU had educated more than 1.5 million students and awarded 819,564 qualifications after successful assessment. In addition, the Open University provides certification for qualifications at Ruskin College in Oxford and Richmond, The American International University in London, Richmond, the American International University in London, a private liberal arts institution. (Until 2008, it provided the same service for the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland).


Open University Students Association

The Open University Students Association is the equivalent of a students' union for the Open University, and is a registered charity wholly funded by the Open University (OU). The association is governed by a Board of Trustees and a Central Executive Committee. Each student registered with the OU automatically becomes part of the Students Association unless they elect to formally opt out. It offers opportunities to meet up, volunteer, find information and access services to support learning.


Notable current and former academics

File:Launch of IYA 2009, Paris - Grygar, Bell Burnell cropped.jpg,
Jocelyn Bell Burnell Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (; born 15 July 1943) is an astrophysics, astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first Radio Pulsar, radio pulsars in 1967. The discovery eventually earned the Nobel P ...

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
led the physics department at the OU for 10 years. File:Robin Wilson outside Gresham College - 23jun11.JPG, Robin Wilson (mathematician), Robin Wilson is an emeritus professor in the Department of Mathematics. File:Colin Pillinger.jpg, Colin Pillinger was a founding member of the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute at OU. File:BrianSmall.png, Brian Goodwin worked as professor of biology at the OU until his retirement in 1992. File:Hall Stuart.jpg, Stuart Hall (cultural theorist), Stuart Hall was professor of sociology at the OU for 18 years until his retirement in 1997.
*
Jocelyn Bell Burnell Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (; born 15 July 1943) is an astrophysics, astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first Radio Pulsar, radio pulsars in 1967. The discovery eventually earned the Nobel P ...

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
– astronomer * Tim Benton – art historian * Andrew Blowers (academic), Andrew Blowers – geographer * Neil Chalmers – zoologist * Catherine Cooke – architectural historian * Nigel Cross – design researcher * Katharine Ellis – music historian * Dimitra Fimi – Tolkien scholar * Monica Grady – meteoricist * Brian Goodwin – biologist * Norman Gowar – mathematician * Oswald Hanfling – philosopher * Stuart Hall (cultural theorist), Stuart Hall – social scientist * Christopher Hill (historian), Christopher Hill – historian * Arthur Marwick – historian * Doreen Massey (geographer), Doreen Massey – geographer * Bob Moon (scholar), Bob Moon – educationist * John Naughton – technologist * Oliver Penrose – mathematician * Mike Pentz – physicist * Colin Pillinger – planetary scientist * Steven Rose – biologist * Russell Stannard – physicist * Hilary Wainwright – sociologist * Nigel Warburton – philosopher * Margaret Wetherell – social psychologist * Glenn White – astronomer * Robin Wilson (mathematician), Robin Wilson – mathematician * John Zarnecki – space scientist


Notable alumni, graduates and honorees

File:Gordon Brown Davos 2008 crop (1).jpg, Former UK Prime Minister and OU tutor
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the h ...

Gordon Brown
received an honorary doctorate from the Open University. File:Official portrait of Lord Reid of Cardowan, 2020.jpg, Former Home Secretary and Minister John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan, Lord Reid is an Open University alumnus. File:TalulahRileyAug09 (cropped).jpg, While acting in London, Talulah Riley received a degree in Natural Sciences from the OU. File:Weston Library Opening by John Cairns 20.3.15-139 (cropped).jpg, Honorary graduate and OU supporter Sir David Attenborough File:Meles Zenawi - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012.jpg, Meles Zenawi – former President of Ethiopia, President and Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Meles acquired an MBA from the OU in 1995. File:Professor Brian Cox OBE FRS.jpg, Brian Cox (physicist), Brian Cox was awarded an honorary doctorate by the OU. File:Natalya Kaspersky crop.jpg, Natalya Kaspersky earned a bachelor's degree from the OU. File:Tim Berners-Lee 2012.jpg, Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the World Wide Web and recipient of OU honorary doctorate File:Lenny Henry in The Comedy of Errors 2011 (crop).jpg, Sir Lenny Henry graduated with a BA Hons in English Literature, from the OU. File:Marat Khusnullin (2020-02-05).jpg, Marat Khusnullin – Deputy Prime Minister of Russia graduated from the OU with a degree in Management. File:S960 - Chris Whitty - Chief Scientific Adviser (cropped).png, Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officers (United Kingdom), Chief Medical Officer for England, completed a graduate diploma in economics at the Open University. File:10.12.12TerryPratchettByLuigiNovi1.jpg, In 2013 the Open University honoured Terry Pratchett with an honorary doctorate. File:Official portrait of Lord McFall of Alcluith crop 2, 2019.jpg, John McFall, Baron McFall of Alcluith, Lord McFall obtained a BA from the Open University in Education and Philosophy. File:Richard Dawkins Cooper Union Shankbone.jpg, Richard Dawkins holds an honorary doctorate from the Open University. File:Romola Garai at the King Lear Press Conference, July 17, 2007, Singapore.jpg, Romola Garai obtained a degree in English literature from the Open University.


In fiction

The Open University has been featured in many films and television programmes. The plot of ''Educating Rita'' surrounds the working-class titular character aiming to "improve" herself by studying English literature. She attends private tutorials run by alcoholic lecturer Frank. Television characters have also followed OU courses. These include Anne Bryce in the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of ...

BBC
sit-com ''Ever Decreasing Circles'', Yvonne Sparrow in ''Goodnight Sweetheart (TV series), Goodnight Sweetheart'' and George Bulman (fictional character), George Bulman in ''Bulman'', in the ITV (TV network), ITV spin-off from the series ''Strangers (1978 TV series), Strangers''. Sheila Grant (Sue Johnston) was accused of having an affair with her tutor in ''Brookside (television programme), Brookside''. Onslow (Keeping Up Appearances), Onslow, a character from ''Keeping up Appearances'', watches Open University programming on television from time to time. In autumn 2006, Lenny Henry was a star in ''Slings and Arrows'', a one-off
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of ...

BBC
television drama which he also wrote, about someone who falls in love while on an OU English Literature course. (Henry has himself completed an OU degree in English.) In the 2006–07 TV series ''Life on Mars (UK TV series), Life on Mars'', Sam Tyler received messages from the real world via Open University programmes late at night. Dorian Green from ''Birds of a Feather (TV series), Birds of a Feather'' announced she had been accepted by the Open University to do a degree in psychology and began studying with the university in series 3. In the 2016 novel ''Swing Time (novel), Swing Time'' by Zadie Smith, the narrator's mother is a student of the Open University. In the TV series ''Bottom (TV series), Bottom'', Adrian Edmondson, Eddie, Steven O'Donnell (British actor), Spudgun, and Christopher Ryan, Dave Hedgehog watch TV while playing hide-and-seek with Rik Mayall, Ritchie. They fall asleep, leaving Ritchie in a cupboard, until they finally awaken to an OU lecture on 'Medieval population distribution patterns in Lower Saxony'.


Partnerships


Armed Forces

Through an agreement between the Ministry of Defence and the OU going back to the early 1970s, a wide range of courses are available to members of the British armed forces, with course materials supplied via the student's BFPO address. OU study centres have been established in Cyprus and Germany. Many have studied while on active service, even in conflict situations.


Partner institutions

The Open University has a diverse network of partners across the globe. Once approved, partner institutions offer Open University validated awards, granted under the University's Royal Charter. As of October 2021, the Open University has over 40 international partners, including for example Union School of Theology, Regent's University London, York College (York), York College, Belfast Metropolitan College, American College of Greece, Leeds City College and Ruskin College, Ruskin College Oxford.


Doctoral training partnerships


The Grand Union

The Grand Union is an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership uniting The Open University, the University of Oxford and Brunel University London. The partnership is committed to a student-centred approach to training researchers, increasing access to postgraduate study, and advancing disciplinary and interdisciplinary research.


Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training

Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership is a consortium of the Open University, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge providing funding and training for doctoral students in the arts and humanities.


Imperial-Cambridge-Open Centre for Doctoral Training

From 2014 to 2022, the Open University is working with Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge to establish a new Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) to develop skills in civil nuclear energy for global markets.


See also

* List of Open University Alumni * Futurelearn *
OpenLearn OpenLearn is an educational website. It is the UK's Open University's contribution to the Open educational resources (OER) project and the home of free, open learning from The Open University. The original project was part-funded by the William ...
* Open College of the Arts * Open University Press * University of Hagen


Notes


References


Further reading

* Dorey, Pete. "‘Well, Harold Insists on Having It!’—The Political Struggle to Establish The Open University, 1965–67." ''Contemporary British History'' 29#2 (2015): 241–272. * Walter Perry, Perry, Walter. "The Open University" ''Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain''. (1971), Vol. 44 Issue 203, pp 95–112. * Purvis, June. "Some problems of teaching and learning within the Open University." ''Educational Research'' 21#3 (1979): 163–177. * Tunstall, Jeremy. ''The Open University Opens'' (1974). * Dalgleish, Tim. ''Lifting It Off The Page: An Oral Portrait of OU People'' 1995, The Open University.


External links

*
Parliament & the Sixties – Jennie Lee & The University of the Air – UK Parliament Living Heritage
*
OpenLearn
online learning from the Open University
Video clip of BBC Open University programme circa 1982
{{Authority control Open University, Distance education institutions based in the United Kingdom Alternative education Personal development Charities based in Scotland Exempt charities Educational institutions established in 1969 Charities based in Buckinghamshire 1969 establishments in the United Kingdom Credit unions of the United Kingdom Open universities Organisations based in Milton Keynes Universities established in the 1960s Universities UK