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The OU comes to Milton Keynes

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Title: Construction of the OU Campus
Duration: 00:04:52
Date: 1982
Title:: OU Campus Buildings
Duration: 00:03:31
Date: 1972

Before The Open University was officially created in 1969, the first home of the institution - where the first staff were based - was a house in Belgrave Square in London. This was a good base for the early months but as planning continued it was clear that there would need to be a larger permanent home for the University for the staff who would be required.

The first Vice Chancellor Walter Perry wrote about the search to find a permanent base and the choice that was finally made in his book “The Open University: History and Evaluation of a Dynamic Innovation in Higher Education” published in 1977:

“Yet, in October 1968, no thought had been given to where the Open University would find its permanent home. …we clearly had to move fast if we were going to be able to house our staff in September 1969. We referred the problem to the Ministry of Works, asking for their help in finding a suitable permanent site for the University. We laid down two parameters for the site. First, our permanent home must be within one hour’s commuting distance of Alexandra Palace, for it was here that all the television and radio production was going to take place… The second parameter was that there should be adequate space for future and unforeseen development of the University.”

Several potential sites in London were considered - but Walter Perry’s view was that an urban setting for the Open University would make it difficult to create anything like a University ambiance on a campus where there would be no undergraduates. The Ministry of Works was asked to try to find a country house with space available for new building.

Both video clips on this page are from the 1970s and feature the Open University campus in its early stages. The first video clip also includes the opening ceremony of the first buildings officiated by Lord Mountbatten in 1972.

The OU comes to Milton Keynes (page 1 of 3)