Archive for July 11th, 2011

OU: one of many?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

The popularity of distance education has increased considerably in the USA. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students enrolled in at least one distance education course increased significantly between 2002 and 2006, from 1.1 million to 12.2 million–and the growth spurt doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The OU, once unusual in offering supported learning for degrees at a distance is now much more part of the mainstream. The history project aims otconsider its role as parent to many other institutions offering distance education. If you have experience of distance education through another body, perhaps you could share your story.

Who attends university?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

At the opening of the OU in 1969 the new Chancellor spoke of it being open to everybody, regardless of qualifications. This disrupted the assumption that only those with suitable formal qualifications were suitable for higher education. It reflected the OU’s culture as emerging from part-time adult education, correspondence courses and Univerisity Extension in the nineteenth century, as well as in the post-war expansion of HE. It now appears that other universities operate a system of entry not simply based on formal assessment. However, these universities have not adopted the ethos of openness espoused by the OU.  Research by the Sutton Trust (a charity) suggests that five schools send more students to Oxbridge than 2,000 other schools. There was a report on this by the BBC.  In terms of its historical committment to being open the OU remains distinctive.