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The Open University (OU) is the UK's distance learning university and has an open entry policy, i.e. students' previous academic achievements are not taken into account for entry to most undergraduate courses . It was established in 1969; and the first students started in January 1971. The majority of students are based in the UK, but its courses can be studied anywhere in the world. The administration is based at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, but has regional centres in each of its thirteen regions around the UK. It also has offices in other European countries. The university awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates.
People from all walks of life and all ages take advantage of the OU; for most courses there are no entry requirements other than the ability to study at an appropriate level, though most postgraduate courses require evidence of previous study or equivalent life experience.
Approximately 70 percent of students are in full-time employment, often working towards a first (or additional) degree or qualification to progress or change their career, with over 50,000 being sponsored by their employer. The University is also popular with those who cannot physically attend a traditional university because they are disabled, abroad, in prison, serving in the armed forces, or looking after family members. About 10,000 OU students have disabilities.
Unlike other universities, where students register for a programme, at the OU students register separately for individual modules (which may be 10, 15, 20, 30 or 60 CATs points), and are known as 'courses' in the OU context. These courses may then be linked into degree programmes. The students' union is the Open University Students Association, usually abbreviated to OUSA.
The OU uses a variety of methods for distance learning, including written and audio materials, the Internet, disc-based software and television programmes on DVD. Course-based television broadcasts by the BBC, which started on 3 January 1971, ceased on 15 December 2006. Materials are composed of originally-authored work by in-house and external academic contributors, and from third-party materials licensed for use by OU students. For most courses, students are supported by tutors ("Associate Lecturers") who provide feedback on their work and are generally available to them at face-to-face tutorials, by telephone, and/or on the Internet. A number of short courses worth ten points are now available that do not have an assigned tutor but offer an online conferencing service (Internet Forum) where help and advice is offered through conferencing "Moderators".
Unit III. My working day. My week-end.
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