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Open University

Site: Distance learning only

World-class distance-learning university; a member of the University Alliance group of universities.

Student Population

Total Students:201,270
FE Students:0%


Total undergraduates:188,920
Full Time:0%
UK Students:100%

Teaching Staff

approx 1100 full-time, 8800 part-time.

Broad study areas

Arts, childhood & youth studies, environment, education, mathematics & computing, science, social science, technology, languages, health & social welfare, law, business & management.


Admission Information:No educational qualifications required (although 30% of new students already hold an HE qualification). Students should be 18 or over and resident in the EU or certain other countries. Early applications take precedence over later ones, so apply early.


Special features:Students study at home through unique OU method of study (OU supported open learning), using specially-written course texts, set books, online in virtual learning environments, and interactive audio-visual materials. Also face-to-face tuition at OU regional tutorial venues and, for some courses, home kits and OU residential schools. OU increasingly attracts students under 25.

Student services & facilities

Amenities:Network of more than 300 tutorial venues. All registered students belong to Open University Students’ Association (OUSA), which provides support services in education and welfare.

Study opportunities & careers

Library & information services:On-campus library for staff and full-time or visiting students. Electronic library resources available to students via the web.
Careers:Personal and online advice and literature to support students (prospective, current and former) in course choice, career planning and career change.


Financial help:Funds for students experiencing financial hardship. Some LEAs may also help and give funds for residential school.
University tuition fees:Home students pay £5000 for 120 credits of study (equivalent to a year's full-time study); students taking fewer credits will be charged the appropriate proportion of the fee. All fees include cost of any residential school that is an integral part of the course. Higher fees charged for students resident outside the UK.


Academic features:

Approx 650 courses, many multi- or inter-disciplinary. Degrees built up by CATS (credit accumulation & transfer scheme): a minimum of 360 points for an Honours degree (120 of these at Level 3) and 300 points for an ordinary degree. Individual courses may be taken on a one-off basis for vocational, updating or as refresher courses. Community education study packs available. Wide range of courses provided for professionals in commerce, industry, education, and the caring services (including a certificate, diploma and Masters degree in management). Postgraduate study also possible (taught or research-based and PGCE).

Awarding body:

Open University

Main undergraduate awards:

BA, BSc, MEng; selection of Honours degrees in named subjects.

Length of courses:

4−5 years average, 5−6 years average for Honours (individual courses 6−12 months).

Main subjects offered:

  • Art History
  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Childhood Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Technology
  • Computing
  • Criminology
  • Development Studies
  • Earth Sciences
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering (General)
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • European Studies
  • French
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • German
  • Health
  • History
  • History/Philosophy of Science
  • Human Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Information Technology
  • International Relations
  • Internet Technology
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Management
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Media Studies
  • Molecular Biology
  • Music
  • Nursing
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Pollution
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Social Policy
  • Social Science
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Statistics
  • Systems Analysis
  • Third World Studies

Student view


Primarily a distance-learning organisation – most students are part-time, studying a wide range of courses leading to BA, BSc, MBA, PGCE and various Diplomas, Masters and PhDs. There are some full-time research students based on campus but the majority of students never visit Walton Hall in Milton Keynes, where the university is based. Students study at home in between their family and work commitments and on average they are expected to study for 10–15 hours a week although this varies greatly. It takes a lot of self-discipline and motivation to be an OU student; but with nearly 200,000 students across the UK and Europe studying this way, it is clearly an attractive option for many – and an increasing number of young and career-orientated students join every year. Most courses have locally-based tutorials and a small number of courses have a residential element, a week (sometimes a weekend) of concentrated study. OU students’ association (OUSA) plays an extremely active role in the life of the university, from its participation and representation at every level of the OU government structure to its many and varied social activities. It has a network of local branches where students can meet in a social environment and discuss not only their studies but their concerns on student issues. You can get an NUS-OUSA associate card which gives you discounts and special offers and includes the ISIC card. There is a huge virtual OU community, using OUSA’s website and its computer-based conferencing systems, where OU students from all over the country, Europe and beyond can talk to each other, discuss their studies and socialise virtually as well. OU students can obtain various forms of financial support towards their fees and study costs, and as a final safety net, OUSA set up its own separate, registered charity OUSET (Open University students educational trust). OU students are well-motivated: they study to enjoy the experience of learning and to enhance their career and personal development.


What’s the best feature about the place? Choice, flexibility and quality of courses

And the worst? It is hard work and you have to be focussed and committed succeed.

And to sum it all up? Studying with the OU is a fantastic experience – it opens doors and changes lives. Also it may be a surprise to know that students have a thriving community through their Students Association and rather than it being the lonely, isolated experience that many imagine, it can lead to a busy social life, friendships – and more!!

More info?

Contact OUSA at Walton Hall, tel 01908 652026, email ousa@student.open.ac.uk, website www.ousa.org.uk.




Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes


01908 274066



Student enquiries:

Customer Contact Centre (01908 653231 – answering service out of office hours; evening & weekend advice line 0870 333 1444). You can find your nearest open day on the website by searching on your town or postcode.



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