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The start of the Open University

In January 1971, the first students enrolled in the Open University in Britain. The new university offered a radical new approach to higher education.

In January 1971, the first students enrolled in the Open University in Britain. The new university offered degree courses through distance learning to students previously excluded from higher education.

Its approach was radically different from conventional universities: it had an open admissions policy, there was no campus for students and lectures were broadcast on BBC television and radio.

Witness hears from John Cowin who left school with no qualifications and was in the University’s first intake.

(PHOTO: A student watching an Open University broadcast on TV in 1971. Credit: Peter Trulock/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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9 minutes

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Mon 4 Jan 2016 08:50GMT

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