The Open University Wiki
The Open University Wiki, 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.
With more than 250,000 students enrolled, including around 32,000 aged under 25 and more than 50,000 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. Since it was founded, more than 1.5 million students have studied its courses. It was rated top university in England and Wales for student satisfaction in the 2005, 2006 and 2012 United Kingdom government national student satisfaction survey, and second in the 2007 survey. Out of 132 universities and colleges, the OU was ranked 43rd (second quartile) in the Times Higher Education Table of Excellence in 2008, between the University of Reading and University of the Arts London; it was rated highly in Design, Art History, English, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Science, Development Studies, Social Policy and Social Work and Sociology. It was ranked overall as a nationally top forty, and globally top five hundred university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2011, as well as being ranked 247 for citations of its academics.
The Open University is also one of only three United Kingdom higher education institutions to gain accreditation in the United States of America by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an institutional accrediting agency, recognized by the United States Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The Open University was founded by the Labour government under Prime Minister 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) Assistant Director of Engineering at the time James Redmond, had obtained most of his qualifications at night school, and his natural enthusiasm for the project did much to overcome the technical difficulties of using television to broadcast teaching programmes.
Wilson envisioned 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 modernization schemes. However, from the start Lee encountered widespread scepticism and even opposition from within and without the Labour Party, including senior officials in the DES; her departmental head Anthony Crosland; the Treasury; Ministerial colleagues, such as Richard Crossman; and commercial broadcasters. The Open University was realized 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 open university.
Organisation and administration
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.
Open University Employees Credit Union Limited is a savings and loans co-operative established by the University for staff in 1994. A member of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited, it is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the PRA. Ultimately, like the banks and building societies, members’ savings are protected against business failure by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
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.