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The Open University (UKOU) is the United Kingdom's only university dedicated to distance learning.
With most courses there are no previous qualifications required to study - students have to be aged 16 when their course starts but there is no upper age limit.
UKOU has around 150,000 undergraduate and more than 30,000 postgraduate students. 10,000 of its students have disabilities. The Open University's style of teaching is called supported open learning.
Nearly all students are studying part-time. About 70% of undergraduate students are in full-time employment. More than 50,000 students are sponsored by their employers for their studies.
11,000 people are currently studying for UKOU Higher Degrees.
Most UKOU courses are available throughout Europe. Some of them are available in many other parts of the world. More than 25,000 UKOU students live outside the UK.
The University itself is ranked among the top UK universities for the quality of its teaching
A third of UK undergraduate students have entry qualifications lower than those normally demanded by other UK universities.
The UKOU web site is http://www.open.ac.uk.
There is a very useful history page at http://www.open.ac.uk/about/ou/p3.shtml
This institution/programme was discussed as a case study in the Megatrends project in its second report, Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe (PDF - 212 pages - EN), 2007 (ISBN 978 82 562 88184).