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Who we are, what we do

The Open University in Scotland is the largest provider of part-time undergraduate higher education in Scotland. We are a world leader in providing innovative and flexible distance learning opportunities. At 90%, our student experience is rated the best in Scotland (alongside the University of St Andrews).

Open and flexible

We were founded over 50 years ago with a clear purpose: to open up education to all. Our mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

We are open to everyone, regardless of age, income, geography and background and with no requirement for entry qualifications. That means that many of our new undergraduates join us without the qualifications you would normally need to get into university. The majority of our students in Scotland study for free with a part-time fee grant. 

Students can choose to study for a degree, diploma or certificate, or take a stand-alone module. Flexible study is core to our offer with 73% of our students working either full-time or part-time fitting study around their professional or personal life at a pace and level that works for them. 

We provide a supportive personalised open learning community and our students tell us that the experience is engaging, immersive and interactive. Over the last decade, we have consistently performed in the top three Scottish universities for student satisfaction.

Across Scotland

The OU in Scotland is the fourth largest university in Scotland. We have 22,000 students based in every part of Scotland from the Shetland Isles to Dumfries and Galloway. Our students range from school age to 91, with an average age of 28. Most of our graduates (85%) remain in the location where their study is undertaken, which means their talent and skills benefits local communities.

We offer high-quality distance learning to students, lifelong learners, communities, employees and businesses. We partner with NHS social care, the care home sector, the third sector and over 230 employers across Scotland. 

Our innovative national schools programme helps S6 pupils bridge school to university level study. We collaborate with Scotland’s other 18 universities and have formal progression arrangements with 15 regional colleges, as well as various shared teaching models which operate in colleges across Scotland.

Our work includes widening access to higher education, irrespective of background or circumstances, and helping individuals and employers to develop and upskill their workforces.

Innovative teaching

The Open University has pioneered distance learning for over 50 years.  All our courses are specifically designed to be taught via distance learning and we are constantly innovating on how we deliver to students.

We offer over 200 globally recognised qualifications across a wide range of subjects, including undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, certificates, and diplomas, many accredited by leading professional bodies.

Over 212,000 people have studied with the OU in Scotland since 1971 and 79,000 qualifications have been awarded in that time. In a year, our students studied almost 30,000 modules.

Stat graphic: Our students studied 29,710 modules in 2020/21; Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, 10,565; Wellbeing, Education and Languages, 6,015; Arts and Social Sciences, 8,630; Business and Law, 3,660; Access, 840

We have 195 staff based at our offices in Edinburgh and 445 associate lecturers working across Scotland. The associate lecturers are a key part of our supported distance learning as they provide guidance, advice and coursework feedback to students. Many also work in business and industry or for other Scottish higher education institutions or colleges.

OU research ranks in the top third of UK universities according to The Research Excellence Framework and we are a trusted partner of many leading organisations for teaching and research including the BBC, NASA, the NHS and the United Nations. 

We provide learning for everyone through our free platform, OpenLearn, our partnership with the BBC and with social learning platform FutureLearn.

Discover some key facts and figures (.pdf) about the OU in Scotland.

General enquiries

Email Scotland
Call 0131 226 3851

Study enquiries

Prospective students:
visit new student enquiries


Current OU students: log in to StudentHome for your personalised contact details.