Open University marks 50th anniversary

By Conor Riordan, Press Association Scotland
The institution was granted its Royal Charter in 1969.

The Open University (OU) is marking 50 years since it was established, having welcomed more than 200,000 students from Scotland.

In 1969 the institution was granted its Royal Charter as a means to provide access to higher education without the need for entrance qualifications.

Today the university, founded by Lochgelly’s Jennie Lee, has 16,500 students from across Scotland.

Susan Stewart, director of the OU in Scotland, said: “The OU is for all, all of the time – not some, some of the time. There’s no such thing as a typical OU student, but what they all have in common is lots going on in their lives.

“The OU gives students the flexibility they need to study at a time and place that suits them, developing the skills they need not just to adapt but thrive in an economy increasingly driven by technological change.

“That has been the OU’s greatest strength for 50 years and will continue to be for the next 50.”

OU students in Scotland have an average new undergraduate age of 27, while the eldest is 92.

Almost two-thirds receive the Scottish Government’s Part-Time Fee Grant, which waives fees for students earning under £25,000.

This is despite the fact that 74% of OU students in Scotland study alongside full-time or part-time work.

Carol Hunter, from Dunfermline, who is studying Social Sciences with the OU, said: “I went to a traditional university straight after school and it didn’t work out for me.

“Later, I went to college, where I discovered it was possible to transfer my college study to the OU.

“Flexible learning with the OU provides a balance between my studies and personal life: I can learn, work full-time and be there for my three young children. I don’t think I could do that anywhere else.”