Walton Hall Campus

50 years since the dawn of the 'University of the Air'

Fifty years ago today, a government White Paper was published, which introduced the concept of The Open University (OU). Originally called the 'University of the Air', the OU was the realisation of the dream of one person; Jennie Lee.

As the Arts Minister at the time, Jennie Lee was the driving force behind the OU, battling fierce opposition and hostile reaction by the media to establish her vision of providing education to millions via mass media. Days after the White Paper was published, negotiations led to the BBC coming on board and sealing the future of this remarkable institution.

In the 50 years since the concept was introduced, the Higher Education sector has changed immensely, but The Open University is still changing the lives of millions, just as Jennie Lee envisaged.

Author of 'The Open University: A History' and academic from the OU, Daniel Weinbren, guides us through the journey of a well-loved institution: