student life

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Open University

Founded in 1969, for many years, the Open University had a reputation for being for crusty, old, corduroy flare wearing, odd balls, with bad hair, who couldn’t get into a brick university.  Nowadays though, the OU’s reputation has changed for the better, and with the massive increase in fees over the past few years, it’s becoming an increasingly popular and affordable way of getting a well-respected undergraduate degree, masters and even a doctorate.  

Here are ten facts about the OU:

1. Only the Young

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s quite a young university. The average age of an OU undergraduate is 29 and a third are under 25 – in fact, only 9% of OU students are over 50.

2. Bigger than your average

The OU is the largest academic institute in the UK, in terms of student numbers.  It has more than 200,000 students and nearly 6,400 tutors. They offer 408 undergraduate modules and 162 postgraduate modules.

3. Multitaskers

You need to be able to multi task to be an OU student!  73% of students work part or even full time whilst studying with the OU and many of them have families to juggle as well, which always looks good with potential employers.

4. Pick your point of graduation

You can graduate where ever you want with the OU regardless of where you live or have studied.  The OU has graduation ceremonies in 15 locations including Dublin, Glasgow, Brighton, London and even Versailles – that’s the one I’ve earmarked personally!

5. F-LAW-Less

The OU is the largest provider of law graduates in the UK, with 6000 enrolled students.

6. Twice champions

The OU is one of only a few universities to have won University challenge twice: once in 1985 and again in 1999.  It’s also in joint third place on the all-time points list and it’s still in the running for this year’s University Challenge!

7. Student Satisfaction

In the 2012 National Student Survey, the OU was the highest rated university for overall student satisfaction and has been in the top five since the survey began.  It’s also ranked in the top 40 UK universities and academically amongst the top 500 universities globally.

8. Celebrity alumni

Just like most other universities, the OU has its fair share of famous alumni, Gordon Brown (who has also tutored), Lenny Henry (English Literature), Myleene Klass (Astrophysics), model Jerry Hall (Humanities) and Holly Willoughby (Psychotherapy). 

9. You’ve Got Mail

In its inaugural year, there was a postal strike that lasted seven weeks, bad news for a distance learning university in the days before the internet.  They solved the problem by getting their own postal van, displaying the same excellent problem solving skills the OU also demands of its students!

10. Still everything you expect from a university

Just like other universities, the OU still has tutors, tutorials (normally on a Saturday morning), essays to hand in, which count towards all or part of the overall final mark, exams and, for some courses, research projects involving time at brick universities.  But, as the largest provider of higher education for people with disabilities, all marked work is submitted and returned online, tutorials and research projects are also provided online if preferred and exams can be sat at home under supervision if your situation means you can’t get to the exam hall.
So there we have it, ten things you may not have known or even expected to know about the Open University.

What do you think? Any surprising facts? Would you consider long distance learning?