Celebrating 50 years of the Open University

The Open University (OU) is celebrating it’s 50 year anniversary in 2019. Since it was established in 1969, the institution has made higher education accessible for more than 200,000 Scots.

AT Family Life HQ we’re lighting candles, popping open the bubbly and saying happy 50th birthday to the OU. Since 1969, the university has helped countless people achieve their dreams.

What is the OU?

In 1969 the OU was created, offering people from all backgrounds a chance to study for a degree through distance learning.

Under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the OU was founded by cabinet minister Jennie Lee to help people who could not attend university or access higher education.

Over the last 50 years the OU has grown to be the largest university in the UK, empowering more than two million students from 157 countries around the world.

Learning for all

Through distance and online learning the OU makes higher education accessible for all. With no entry requirements and the potential for help with tuition fees, anyone can study with the OU.

Whether you have been to university before, left high school early, work full-time or stay at home with the kids, you can study with the OU.

With more than 200 courses and 400 modules the possibilities for extending your knowledge, progressing in your career or making a change are endless. Scholarships for injured veterans, extra support for disabled students, and extra support for single parents makes the OU a university with a difference.


The thought of large tuition fees would put most people off the idea of studying for a degree, especially if you have a family to support.

Along with offering grants, funding opportunities and flexible payment options, the OU has created OpenLearn. OpenLearn provides short courses free of charge that can be completed online.

From learning a new language to learning about Babylonian mathematics (yes really), all OpenLearn courses can be completed when and where you want.

Find out more

If the OU’s 50th birthday has inspired you to learn a new skill, get a degree or advance your knowledge, you can find out more about the institution here.

Throughout 2019 events will take place to mark 50 years of the OU. From a gala to a TEDx talk, this year will be full of OU celebrations.

Have you studied with the Open University over the last 50 years? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.

Family Life

Family Life is Scotland's premier lifestyle magazine, packed with recipes, reviews, real life stories and more. Pick up the lates issue FREE in a supermarket near you.

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