The Open University Info
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.
The Open University’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.
We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Through academic research, pedagogic innovation and collaborative partnership we seek to be a world leader in the design, content and delivery of supported open learning.
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, keep mentally active. The OU is open to them all.
The Open University’s Former Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean
How we deliver our mission
The Open University’s Students First – strategy for growth (pdf) is the means by which we will continue transforming lives through education, building on our success and delivering our mission in a changing world.
Our Annual Reports provide a record of our work, events, projects and financial highlights year by year.
Open to all
Most of our undergraduate courses have no formal entry requirements. We believe that the qualifications our students have when they leave are the only ones that matter.
We are committed to promoting equal opportunities for all, and close monitoring makes sure that we live up to our ideals.
Equality and diversity website
Supporting students with disabilities
The OU has more disabled students than any other university in Europe. The flexible nature of OU study and our experience in harnessing enabling technologies to support learning means over 20,000 people with a wide range of disabilities – including mental health issues – choose to study with us each year.
Services for disabled students
Widening access in education
We work in partnership with national and local organisations to open up higher education to underrepresented groups, reaching out to potential students in their communities – and ensuring that, once on board, these students receive the support they need to succeed in their studies.
Our Access modules are designed to help people find out what it’s like to study with the OU, build study skills and gain confidence.
Our postal address is:
The Vice-Chancellor’s Office
Phone: +44 (0)1908 274066
Executive Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor:
Sue Brewster, +44 (0)1908 653214
For all OU communications and marketing, please contact in the first instance:
Lucian J. Hudson, Director of Communications.