Facts & figures
Since the OU’s launch in 1969, 1.89 million people worldwide have achieved their learning goals by studying with us.
The OU is the largest academic institution in the UK with 173,889 students
Our global reach
Open University students are not just in the UK. Most courses are available throughout Europe and some worldwide – and many more are available through our partnerships and accredited institutions.
- 8,353 overseas students directly studying with the OU
- 800,000 teachers who have benefitted from OU's TESSA project
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, or keep mentally active.
- 76% of OU students work full or part-time during their studies
- 21% of OU UK undergraduates live in the 25% most deprived areas
- 30% of new OU undergraduates are under 25
We are the largest provider of higher education for people with disabilities:
- More than 21,000 people with disabilities studied with us in 2014/15.
Our open admissions policy helps thousands of people who failed to achieve their potential earlier in life:
- 40% of students had one A level or a lower qualification at entry
OU students in the workplace
The qualities it takes to get an OU qualification are exactly what employers are looking for. They know that OU students are up for a challenge, understand how to prioritise and manage their time, and can see things through to the end.
- 86% of FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff on OU courses
The OU and digital media
- OpenLearn, a free learning resources website from the OU, has had 38.5 million visits since its launch in 2006.
- The OU’s extensive material on iTunes U has had 69.9 million downloads
Financial highlights from the academic year 2014/15 appear on the website.
- 72% of OU research submitted was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014)
- 192 doctoral degrees awarded in 2014/15
Did you know? 10 fascinating facts about the OU
- The Open University was founded in 1969 and took its first 24,000 students in 1971.
- The Archers, Brookside, Ever Decreasing Circles, Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart have all had OU students written into their plots.
- One of actress Julie Walters’ first major film roles was portraying an OU student opposite Michael Caine in Educating Rita.
- The OU is the largest provider of law graduates in the UK
- The OU is one of a handful of universities to have won University Challenge twice, in 1985 and 1999, and is in joint third position in the all-time points list.
- Well-known names who have tutored for the OU include former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, actress Glenda Jackson and broadcaster Anna Ford
- In 2015 the OU held degree ceremonies in 13 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland.
- The OU is the UK’s only university dedicated to distance learning
- The Open University is rated one of the best in the UK for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey. The OU is one of only four UK universities to have consistently achieved more than 90% in the survey’s history
- The OU has had a partnership with the BBC for over 40 years and co-produces up to 25 TV and radio series a year with the BBC. Recent examples include: Britain's Great War, Airport Live, Wartime Farm, Stargazing Live, Coast, An Hour to Save Your Life, Bang Goes The Theory, More or Less, Thinking Allowed and The Bottom Line.
More like this
How OU-style open learning works, from course development through to delivery to our students.
How The Open University partners with the BBC, other education institutions and employers worldwide, and how to collaborate with us.
The story of The Open University from early political thinkers through to our 40th anniversary in 2009 and beyond.
Statistics and information on OU students, alumni, honorary graduates, courses and programmes, staff, funding, disability and employment.
What does your Open University student fee pay for?