The Open University

The Open University (OU) works with unions to extend higher education to union members.

You can study with the OU no matter who you are, where you are or what you do.

Open University logo

The OU-Unionlearn Partnership

The OU and Unionlearn signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2006. This provided the basis for working in partnership to support union members to access higher level learning opportunities. In 2018 unionlearn and the Open University took the opportunity to refresh their MOU aimed at motivating union members into higher education.

There is an OU-Unionlearn Steering Group made up of representatives of the OU, unionlearn and unions affiliated to the TUC which manages this special relationship.

Read the blog Peter Horrocks, Vice-Chancellor of the OU, wrote for unionlearn on part-time students - the ultimate 'hard-working people'.


The OU has over 600 courses, covering a wide range of fascinating subjects. To find out more request a prospectus, contact the OU or speak to an advisor on 0845 300 6090.

OU Access module

If you want to study with the OU but you’re not quite sure you are ready, an OU Access module is the ideal way to prepare.  You may even be able to study for free.

Six free online courses

Unionlearn is part of the OU Social Partnerships Network (SPN). Together we've developed six free online courses aimed at people wanting to move up in their career, or considering a change of direction.

OpenLearn Learner Guide

A free course has being introduced by The Open University (OU) aimed at improving opportunities for work-based learning. The OpenLearn Learner Guide is a free 10-hour badged course that provides a gateway for facilitators and employees to a wealth of free resources and learning materials on the OU’s OpenLearn pages.

OpenLearn offers around 11,000 hours of materials including interactives, videos, academic blogs and podcasts from Open University courses on a wide range of subjects, from arts and literature to science and politics.

This online course is intended for learning facilitators, such as Union Learning Representatives (ULRs), Workers Education Association (WEA) tutors and anyone else involved in signposting learning opportunities in the workplace. It will help users to develop the skills to sign up to and navigate OpenLearn and introduce the platform’s main features and resources. It will also offer facilitators the chance to experience studying an OpenLearn free course themselves, whilst giving them the skills and information for further studying opportunities to share with learners.


The OU launched its first MOOC (massive open online course) in November 2013. Drawing on 40 years’ experience of delivering online and distance education to global audiences, the OU is using this knowledge to create a visually captivating online course for UK and international audiences.

Find details of the OU's current MOOCs on the FutureLearn website.

Student Experience

The OU offers a unique study experience. Find out more about How OU study works.

Visit OU View, the OU’s YouTube channel, covering a wide range of video subjects and issues.

Videos about the OU student experience:




Prospective learners can find out from OU staff what it’s like to study with them, and how our courses suit your needs, at one of their regular events.

Key information on the OU website:


For general enquiries from union learners and requests for further information, call 0845 300 60 90.