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Open University

The Open University (OU) is a distance learning[?] university. It gives out honours degrees regarded as equal to 'normal' honours degrees.

The Open University was founded in the 1960s and primarily aims to provide a University to the disabled (officially a priority group within the University), and those wishing to pursue further education on a part-time and/or distance learning basis.

People from all walks of life take advantage of the OU. Because courses are part-time and distance learning the University is popular with those who cannot physically attend a normal university (because they are disabled, abroad, in prison, or serving in the armed forces) or who wish to study a first (or second, third ...) degree while holding down a full time job/looking after family members, whether to progress their career or allow them to change their career.

The OU uses a variety of methods for distance learning, including the internet and TV programmes on the BBC. For subjects where the content does not change much from year to year (such as undergraduate maths) some of the programs have been over twenty years old and the image of brown-kipper tie and flared cord trouser wearing maths lecturers has given the OU an unfortunate image. Those programs have since been (mostly) retired and the OU has tried to appear more modern.

The OU's business school is the largest provider of MBAs in the UK, and the OU has traditionally been a progressive organization.

An OU degree consists of 360 points, with each course being attributed a number of points (usually 30 or 60) depending on the content. Courses are also rated as levels 1,2 or 3, roughly equating to first, second and third year courses at a 'normal' University. Students generally do not undertake more than 60 points per year, meaning that a degree will take at least 6 years to complete. With the exception of some degrees in fast moving areas (such as computing) there is generally no limit on the time which a student may take, and occasionally a student will complete a degree after two decades or more.

See Educating Rita for a fictional treatment.

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