Beds, Herts & Bucks

Milton Keynes-based OU celebrates television milestone

The Milton Keynes-based Open University is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first lecture broadcast by the BBC.

The programme was broadcast on BBC2 on 3 January 1971 and since then about 7,000 television and 4,000 radio programmes have been produced.

The first black-and-white broadcasts were made for the OU's first 25,000 students taking courses in the arts, social sciences, science or maths.

About 300 million viewers watched the BBC/OU's programmes during 2009/2010.

The lectures, which switched from late-night broadcasts to the early hours with the introduction of video recorders, have evolved into the current range of mainstream OU/BBC programming such as Coast and James May's Big Ideas.

'Accessible learning'

Dr Sally Crompton, the head of the university's Open Broadcasting Unit, said the joint programming widened access to learning and had been consistently recognised with industry awards.

"The Open University's partnership with the BBC provides a unique way to combine academic expertise and high-quality production," she said.

"TV, radio and online content brings education to millions of people and, while it has evolved from late night programmes to mainstream television, it is still central to what the OU does, making learning accessible."

The OU received its Royal Charter in 1969 and faced widespread criticism in its early years due to its radical open admissions policy, which did not insist on any prior educational qualifications.

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