University to celebrate 40 years of graduation

The Open University is set to mark a special anniversary this weekend – 40 years after giving out its first degrees.

The first students graduated at Alexandra Palace in London in June, 1973, the year the university started hosting these ceremonies.

On that day 867 students gathered with friends and family to graduate but since then the university’s popularity has grown considerably.

In the past 40 years it has hosted 700 similar events in locations across the UK and is now considered to be the biggest university in the country.

Almost two million students have now studied there in courses ranging from Digital Photography to Astro Physics.

It is still regarded as one of the leaders in the field of flexible learning, with around a quarter of a million students currently studying, including 15,000 people learning overseas.

Martin Bean, OU vice chancellor, said: “The Open University has always been at the cutting edge of flexible learning, from our early days of BBC programmes right through to our use of today’s technology which allows people to study wherever they are and however they wish.

“Those early values of flexibility and openness are still at the heart of the OU today and our students still display the qualities so praised by Walter Perry at that first graduation ceremony,” said Mr Bean.

He added: “Now more than ever it is important that people are able to learn and develop themselves without putting their lives on hold, and indeed some 70% of our students are in employment whilst studying.”