In some countries, higher education is publicly funded by taxes. In others, the smart or athletically talented can get scholarships and the rest get student loans… but in many cases a university level education is just out of reach. Whether it is distance from a good university, the high cost to attend or a lack of time with other obligations, most people around the world never have the opportunity to receive advanced degrees.
This is where the Open University comes into play. Their mission statement says their aim is to be:
“open to people, places, methods and ideas. We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realize their ambitions and fulfill their potential.”
The university has no formal entry requirements, so the education is truly open to all people, even if they have made some educational missteps in the past. While there are still fees associated with study at the university, it is considerably less than that of the vast majority of universities and in some cases, even less than the tuition for community colleges. You can study wherever you want through their distance learning program and only pay for the classes you actually take: because you don’t pay tuition for a whole year of courses if you don’t take a full course load.
One of the most exciting aspects of the program: for those who just want to learn, they have released thousands of hours of content on iTunes, YouTube and OpenLearn. It’s all free and some of it is truly top notch – like the quirky video below about a handful of the biggest and best theories of all time. See the three videos below that, then check out the rest of the library on YouTube. Be careful if you are an information junkie, you could get stuck there for hours.