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 Strategic Plan 2012-17 (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.
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 almost 12,500 people with a wide range of disabilities – including mental health issues – choose to study with us each year.
Our Access Centre provides additional support to our disabled students, ensuring they can take part in every aspect of university life. This can include providing special computer software, offering advice on funding, allowing exams to be sat at home and providing a personal assistant at day or residential schools.
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.
Open access to learning materials
Every day, millions of people access free OU content, no matter where they live in the world. All they need is an internet connection:
|OpenLearn||Free OU course materials and other educational resources, delivered through a multi-award-winning website. Visitors don’t need to register as students.|
|YouTube||Over 800 videos including clips about student life, current research and extracts from OU broadcasts and teaching materials.|
|iTunes U||A huge range of podcasts to listen to on the move. In April 2012 we became the first university in Europe to reach more than 1 million subscriptions.|
|Open Research Online||One of the largest university research collections in the UK, with more than 15,000 research publications available online.|
The Open University is more than just a place of learning - it is a community. The OU student charter, developed jointly by the University and the OU Students Association, sets out our responsibilities to one another as members of the OU community.
The Open University has been committed to international development for over 20 years. We deliver flexible, adaptable and scalable programmes in partnership with governments, NGOs, funding institutions and local partners – addressing areas such as frontline health, teacher education and English language teaching. Our work ranges from vital skills training for frontline healthcare workers across sub-Saharan Africa, to projects designed to transform English language education in Bangladesh and Pakistan.