The Open University United Kingdom
The Open University in UK, The Open University (OU) is a public distance learning and research university, and one of the biggest universities in the UK for undergraduate education. The majority of the OU’s undergraduate students are based throughout the United Kingdom and principally study off-campus; many of its courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1000 members of academic and research staff and over 2500 administrative, operational and support staff. The OU was established in 1969 and the first students enrolled in January 1971. The University administration is based at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, but has regional centres in each of its thirteen regions around the United Kingdom. It also has offices and regional examination centres in many other European countries. The university awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as non-degree qualifications such as diplomas and certificates or continuing education units.
The University has Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences; The Open University Business School (OUBS); The Open University Law School; Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM); Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies; Institute of Education Technology (IET); Knowledge Media Institute (KMI).
In 1982 the OU announced the establishment of a business school supported by the Foundation for Management Education and the British Institute of Management. In 1983 the Open University Business School was founded with 1,600 students enrolled onto the first two courses – The Effective Manager and Personnel Selection and Interviewing.
The Open University Business school is accredited by the international accrediting bodies AACSB, AMBA, amd EQUIS. It is the only triple-accredited business school that specialises in flexible learning, and nearly 24,000 students have graduated with MBAs in over 100 countries.
The OU Business School’s MBA programme was ranked 13th in the Financial Times’s global rankings of online and distance learning MBA providers which featured five European schools, four of which were in the UK
Open University modules have associated with them a number of Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (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 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.
As well as degrees in named subject, the Open University also grants “Open” Bachelor’s degrees where the syllabus is designed by the students by combining any number of Open University modules up to 300 credits for an Open degree and 360 credits for an Open honours degree – the main restriction on which courses can be included is that there must be at least 60 at level 3 for the “ordinary degree” and 120 at level 3 for honours and in both cases no more than 120 at level 1. The Open degree may be awarded as a Bachelor of Arts Open or a Bachelor of Science Open either with or without honours. Without honours, at least 150 credits at level 1 and above and 60 credits at level 2 and above are required in the field, either art or science, for the Open degree to carry that name. For a degree with honours, no more than 120 credits at level 1, 120 credits at level 2 and above and 120 credits at level 3 and above are required.
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).
The Open University provides the opportunity to study for a PhD on a part-time distance, or a full-time on-site basis in a wide range of disciplines as well as an EdD for professionals in education. The university also offers a range of Master’s levels modules such as the MBA and MPA, MSc, MA and MEd, and MRes, as well as the professional PGCE qualification 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.