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History of The Open University

Established in 1969, The Open University (OU) has aimed from its inception to be open to people, places, methods and ideas but its story has never fully been told. A research project has been established to chart the history of the University and its impact on students, the world of education and wider society.

The project aims to draw on the collective experience of OU staff and students over 40 years. To contribute to this, this website has been designed so that information, memories and views can be submitted by anyone with an interest in the OU's history.

This website is a living archive. More material will be added, and gaps filled, as the project goes on.

Featured articles

John Horlock served as Vice-Chancellor at The Open University from 1981 to 1990. John Horlock was...

Personal stories

The academics who prepared the original learning materials were the real pioneers - exposing...

Elements of The Open University's history told chronologically, from early twentieth century precedents up to its fortieth anniversary.

Jennie Lee opening the Jennie Lee Library in 1973

People who have made The Open University what it is today, its development as an institution and its relationships with others.

An early Home Experiment Kit

Quality teaching materials, innovative pedagogy and research, varied partnerships and the exploitation of new technologies.

The Open University's reach, its worldwide influences and impact, and its presence across Britain, Ireland and beyond.