|Motto||Learn and Live|
|Chancellor||Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho |
|Vice-Chancellor||Mary Kellett (Acting)|
The university is funded by the British state, and by student fees and contract income. It has an open entry policy. This means that students' previous academic achievements are not taken into account for entry to most undergraduate courses. Most OU undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and study off-campus. Many of its courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) can be studied off-campus anywhere in the world.
There are a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48 hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1000 members of academic and research staff and over 2500 administrative, operational and support staff.
The OU was established in 1969 and the first students enrolled in January 1971. The University administration is based at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, but has regional centres in each of its thirteen regions around the United Kingdom. It also has offices and regional examination centres in most other European countries. The University awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as non-degree qualifications such as diplomas and certificates, or continuing education units.
With more than 250,000 students enrolled, including around 32,000 aged under 25 and more than 50,000 overseas students, it is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom (and one of the largest in Europe) by student number. It is one of the world's largest universities. Since it was founded, more than 1.5 million students have studied its courses.
The OU was rated top university in England and Wales for student satisfaction in 2005, 2006, second in 2007, and top in 2012. These were United Kingdom government national student satisfaction surveys. Out of 132 universities and colleges, the OU was ranked 43rd (second quartile) in the Times Higher Education Table of Excellence in 2008. It was rated highly in Design, Art History, English, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Science, Development Studies, Social Policy and Social Work, and Sociology. It was ranked overall as a nationally top forty, and globally top five hundred university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2011, as well as being ranked 247 for citations of its academics.
The Open University is also one of only three United Kingdom higher education institutions to gain accreditation in the United States of America by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an institutional accrediting agency, recognized by the United States Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Drastic drop in enrollments change
The Open University enrollments for undergraduate courses have dropped from a peak in 2009/10 of 209,705 to the latest published figure of 121,395 in 2016/17. According to The Guardian, this was caused mainly by the government. In 2012 it allowed fees for part-time degrees to rise to £6,750 per year, whilst severely limiting maintenance grants for students. Part-time courses at traditional universities in the U.K. have also suffered a drop in enrollment.
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