Set Your Ambition Free
Want to achieve your ambition? Study with us and you’ll be joining over 2 million students who’ve achieved their career and personal goals with The Open University.
We’ve pioneered distance learning for over 50 years, bringing the university to you wherever you are so you can fit study around your life, with expert tutor support every step of the way. In fact, our students rated us 88% for overall student satisfaction and we were ranked third in the 2021 National Student Survey. Meaning when it comes to realising your ambition, you couldn’t be in better hands.
Your Ambition. Our Mission.
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.
Our vision is to reach more students with life-changing learning that meets their needs and enriches society.
In achieving our mission, we are committed to and are guided by, the enduring Open University values of inclusivity, innovation and responsiveness.
What is distance learning?
Accessible study resources and expert tutor instruction mean you’ll have the flexibility to study when and where you want. Whatever your circumstances, gain a recognised university qualification.
Achieve your goals through part- or full-time study with The Open University.
Distance learning is going to be different to the study you’ve done before – school, college, even university. But it’ll be similar in many ways as well.
With OU distance learning, you’ll have study materials, and online study portal, a dedicated tutor, student forums, learning events and more.
As the only UK university dedicated to distance learning, we want to make sure you know what to expect as an OU student. So we’ve put together a series of short guides on some of the aspects of studying with us.
Can I do it?
Where you start in life shouldn't limit where you go! Whatever your ambition, if you're determined to succeed and prepared to work hard then read on, get in touch and get going.
More than 170,000 students are achieving their goals by studying with us. Now it's your turn to join them.
Supported open learning
The OU teaches through its own unique method of distance learning, called ‘supported open learning, which is:
Flexible – students work where and when they choose to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments
All-inclusive – students get all the high-quality materials they need to study
Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials; and specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and course forums.
The OU has a network of more than 5,000 tutors – the largest in the UK. Tutors mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing. They also run group or online tutorials and day schools. Some are full-time members of staff, but most are associate lecturers: experts in their subject who combine their work as tutors with other academic or industry jobs.
Students are assessed through tutor-marked and computer-marked assignments, oral or practical assessments, projects, examinations, dissertations and portfolios. External examining ensures that we maintain academic standards and provide an independent view of the assessment process.
Our global reputation
The Open University was established by the Royal Charter on 23 April 1969.
We’ve come a long way since then, constantly innovating at every step to make sure that our founding mission-enabling access to education for all – remains as relevant now as it did over 50 years ago.
Bringing university to you, wherever you are
We are the largest university in the UK and the most popular choice for part-time students.
- We're the world's top-ranked distance learning university (The Times World University Rankings).
- Our flexible learning means we can meet the needs of individuals and large employers across the world.
- Our network of more than 5,000 expert tutors deliver innovative, insightful teaching and many combine their work as tutors with academic or industry roles.
- We are globally recognised as the experts in learning technologies, spearheading research that is driving innovations in teaching.
The OU supports a diverse community of over 900 postgraduate research students, doing cutting-edge PhD and Professional Doctorate projects.
- We ranked in the top third of UK universities in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 using the Times Higher Education Power Score.
- We were 5th for overall satisfaction in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) 2019.
Our courses are underpinned by our research and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny.
In addition, a world-leading programme of research into teaching strategies and educational technologies ensures that our materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale supported distance learning.
Open University degrees awarded is comparable with those awarded by other UK universities. In fact, many employers and organisations worldwide employ Open University graduates and understand that an OU degree is equal in academic standard to a degree from any other British university.
- Our Business School is one of an elite group to have earned triple accreditation from all three of the world's leading management accreditation associations.
- The OU is one of only three UK higher education institutions to gain accreditation in the United States, recognised by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE is a voluntary, non-governmental membership association that defines, maintains and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations and resources. We’ve been a member since 2005, and our accreditation was re-affirmed in 2020.
- Shortlisted for the Times Higher Education ‘Business School of the Year’ award, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017
- Five finalists and two winners in the international AMBA ‘Student of the Year awards
- Shortlisted for the Association of MBAs (AMBA) Innovation Award 2015
- Winner of two industry awards for our MBA Business Case Builder online tool (helps prospective students create a compelling business case for employer sponsorship): Gold in the annual Heist Awards ‘Best use of innovation and creative thinking’ category) and Silver in the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards (‘Individual sub-websites category)
- OUBS featured in AACSB's Innovations That Inspire for significant investment in free online learning resources in 2016
- Winner of the Business Partnership category at the Guardian University Awards 2017 for our collaboration with financial services company True Potential LLP
- One winner in the international AASCB Influential Leader awards in 2019