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Our mission


Our aim is to play a part in transforming the world by transforming the way people learn. We know high quality education is a powerful resource, but access is unevenly distributed across the world and we believe access to education can help build a healthier, richer, fairer, and more environmentally aware and more fulfilled community. So we are committed to delivering solutions which ensure greater access to high quality education.

The learning helps me feel more positive and confident!

Why do we commit to providing free learning?

We believe that the three main barriers to starting education are access, cost and lack of confidence. Hence we aim to remove all three of these from the first steps in learning through providing free learning:

  • Access (off and online): we want to build on formats and platforms to improve discoverability
  • Cost: we want to ensure sound sustainable business models to underpin free delivery of free learning
  • Confidence: we want to build on badging and analytics to improve learner esteem and build confidence

Fees are now far too high for me to consider continuing with my studies towards a degree

Vision for the future

The OU has a radical and pioneering approach to access. Matching its refusal to place qualifications barriers in front of our own students, it also has a commitment to release and promote free learning content and systems for others. In addition we exploit these materials and systems in developing localised solutions. Through grant and donor support and by working closely with local stakeholders we have developed a number of projects that offer open educational resources to targeted groups in deprived populations.

Disability means I need most content verbally (eg. Podcast) and minimal requirement to interact

Membership of supporting initiatives in open education

The OU is a member of the OERu (a network of institutions that offers free online courses for students worldwide) and OpenUp Ed (the only pan-European MOOC initiative launched in collaboration with the European Commission).

The OU is also a member of Open Education Consortium (a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education). The Open Education Consortium houses a vast database of free courses from which OpenLearn content is indexed and linked.

The OU is a member of IMS Global Learning Consortium which aims to advance technology that can scale in an affordable way and improve educational participation and achievement.