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Different eras

This section contains stories linked to what happened when, including the circumstances that led to The Open University’s foundation in the 1960s; through its teething problems and establishment in the 1970s; survival of massive public sector cuts in the 1980s; and expansion at home and abroad in the 1990s and new century.

More material, particularly related to the later years, will be published as the project continues and contributions are welcomed.

Featured articles

For regular updates from the project, please visit the History of the OU blog. Latest news 29-...

Personal stories

I started my studies with the Open University in 2004. With a little help from Tesco Club card...

Early distance learning, the new BBC, post-war developments in British higher education and Harold Wilson’s big idea.

Staff at Walton Hall in 1974

Establishment and early years; first students and graduates; the growth of Continuing Education and first steps abroad.

Robotics and computing course materials

Survival despite funding cuts. Changes in the student body, curriculum expansion and the impact of advancing technology.

OU Chancellor Betty Boothroyd presiding at a degree ceremony

Consolidation and advance. Embrace of new technology, expansion of partnerships and an end to course broadcasts.