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Our global reputation

The Open University was established by Royal Charter on 23 April 1969.

We’ve come a long way since then, constantly innovating at every step to make sure that our founding mission – enabling access to education for all – remains as relevant now as it did over 50 years ago.

Image of Earth from Space

Bringing university to you, wherever you are

We are the largest university in the UK and the most popular choice for part-time students.

  • We're the world's top-ranked distance learning university (The Times World University Rankings).
  • Our flexible learning means we can meet the needs of individuals and large employers across the world.
  • Our network of more than 5,000 expert tutors deliver innovative, insightful teaching and many combine their work as tutors with academic or industry roles.
  • We are globally recognised as the experts in learning technologies, spearheading research that is driving innovations in teaching.
 
 
Student studying outside
 

 


 

Outstanding research

The OU supports a diverse community of over 900 postgraduate research students, doing cutting-edge PhD and Professional Doctorate projects.

  • We ranked in the top third of UK universities in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 using the Times Higher Education Power Score.
  • We were 5th for overall satisfaction in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) 2019.

Our courses are underpinned by our research and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny.

In addition, a world-leading programme of research into teaching strategies and educational technologies ensures that our materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale supported distance learning.

 
 
Open University PhD research student
 

 


 

International recognition

Open University degrees awarded are comparable with those awarded by other UK universities. In fact, many employers and organisations worldwide employ Open University graduates and understand that an OU degree is equal in academic standard to a degree from any other British university.

  • Our Business School is one of an elite group to have earned triple accreditation from all three of the world's leading management accreditation associations.
  • The OU is one of only three UK higher education institutions to gain accreditation in the United States, recognised by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE is a voluntary, non-governmental membership association that defines, maintains and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations and resources. We’ve been a member since 2005, and our accreditation was re-affirmed in 2020.
 
 
Open University Graduation Ceremony
 

 


 

Unique partnership with the BBC

For over half a century, the OU and the BBC have been co-producing inspirational content with a mission to bring learning to life for millions of people.

Our partnership began in the early 1970s as an innovative mission to provide access to learning at scale via late-night lectures beamed into people's homes. Continuing to adapt with the changing times, it still inspires leading learning from a range of co-produced and awarding-winning content – like Sir David Attenborough's Blue Planet II and A Perfect Planet.

The Open University has a vast range of academic expertise, and whatever partnership content we are co-producing benefits from our experts' specialist knowledge. OU academics consult throughout the entire production process.

 
 
Image to illustrate Blue Planet II