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About us

The Open University (OU) is a unique institution serving the whole of Scotland. Our open admissions policy means no formal entry requirements are needed for most undergraduate qualifications or modules. Many of our new undergraduates join us without standard university entrance level qualifications. Read more about our story.

With our supported personalised open learning, you can choose to study for a degree, diploma or certificate, or take a stand-alone module. We are the most popular choice of university for flexible study in Scotland. Almost 60% of all part-time undergraduate students in Scotland are OU students. 

18,000+ OU students in Scotland - stat graphic
18% of new undergraduates join without standard university entrance qualifications - stat graphic

Geographical reach

The Open University reaches across the whole of Scotland with 18,165 students from the Shetland Isles to Dumfries and Galloway. This gives us an unparalleled ability to undertake nationwide developments, often by working in partnership. 

Who are our students?

We have a diverse student body, attracted by The OU's flexible entry routes and methods of study, as well as the funding support and finance options available.

 76% of our students in full-time or part-time work; In Scotland we recruit more students from the most deprived areas than the least deprived; 27 is the average age of new undergraduates; We have students in every Scottish parliamentary constituency

  • 19% of our new undergraduates live in Scotland's 20% most disadvantaged areas.
  • 19% of new undergraduates have a college Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma.
  • 24% of OU in Scotland students declare a disability.
  • Almost a quarter of our students in Scotland live in remote or rural areas.     
  • Over 40% of students take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects; of them 50% are female.
  • We have 51 students studying in 15 secure facilities across Scotland.
  • 75,500 OU qualifications have been awarded to students in Scotland since 1971. 

Equality and Diversity at The Open University in Scotland

Social justice is at the heart of The Open University's mission. We are creating an inclusive university community and a society where people are treated with dignity and respect, where inequalities are challenged, and where we anticipate and respond positively to different needs and circumstances, so that everyone can achieve their potential. Find out more

OU staff in Scotland

477 Associate Lecturers working across Scotland - stat graphic
160 staff based at our Scotland office - stat graphic

The student services we provide from our Edinburgh office include: student enrolment; advice on courses and qualifications, and fees and funding; learner support, including disability support; careers and employability information, advice and guidance. 

Our academic staff are grouped in OU faculties:

475+ modules - stat graphicMany of our associate lecturers also work in business and industry or for other Scottish higher education institutions or colleges. They provide guidance, advice and coursework feedback to our students, and can be contacted by phone or online.

Our associate lecturers lead group tutorials and seminars, making use of online teaching technologies to link up student groups across the country.

Some standalone modules have study advisers who students can contact with any academic queries.

A global university

Open University students are not just in Scotland; we have over 175,000 students in the UK, Europe and across the rest of the world.

The OU is the largest academic institution in the UK by student headcount.

Through its International Development Fund, the Scottish Government is supporting the OU in delivering ZEST, a continuing professional development programme for primary school teachers in Zambia.


The OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. This includes free study units on OpenLearn which, to date, has had over 80 million unique visitors; materials on iTunes U which have recorded over 73 million downloads and streams; over 1 million downloads on Amazon Kindle; and The OU YouTube channel which has had over 53 million video views. 

​The OU had 72% of its research assessed as 3 or 4 star in the most recent UK Research Excellence Framework (2014). The high rating indicates that the research undertaken by The OU is world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of quality, impact and environment. 

Future Learn logo​The Open University is a global leader in the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the UK via ‘FutureLearn’ a partnership between The OU and other universities, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde, providing free, open, online courses to global audiences. 


*Figures relating to OU in Scotland students are based on Full-Time Equivalent statistics for academic year 2019-20, except for the total number of OU students in Scotland, the number of students studying in secure facilities and the average age of new undergraduates (which are / are based on headcount figures), and the proportion of part-time undergraduates statistic (which is based on 2018-19 HESA data).

General enquiries

Email Scotland
Call 0131 226 3851

Study enquiries

Prospective students:
visit new student enquiries

For personalised contact details for applied to study/current OU students:
log in to StudentHome

Freedom of Information request

Please visit the Freedom of Information webpages.

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Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

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