Yesterday The Open University in Wales (OU) hosted a special reception to celebrate its 50th year, bringing together OU alumni, AMs, stakeholders and the general public for a day of celebrations.

Held at the historical Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay, the celebrations were an opportunity for people to take a look back at how far the OU has come since its foundation in 1969, and it’s future ambitions to reach more and more students with its innovative, flexible and supported distance learning model.

The event started with a showcase of unique material from the OU archive, looking back at the last 50 years’ worth of study materials and key points in history. It also showcased its rich history through a video, narrated and told by the voices of the OU in Wales, its staff and students.

Louise Casella, director of the Open University in Wales, welcomed guests with an inspiring speech. She said: “The OU in Wales has been at the forefront of innovation in higher education since it started in 1969. We’ve welcomed and supported more than 200.000 students in Wales in the past 50 years.

“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the OU’s impact on Wales, and celebrate with our amazing students, our staff, alumni and stakeholders. The OU in Wales is constantly improving and expanding, and we saw a 40% increase in new learners joining us last year alone.

“With our course offering constantly evolving, we’re now providing a portfolio of courses across Wales that spark curiosity and build skills and a thirst for learning, remaining true to our message that education is for all.”

Speaking at the event, the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “For 50 years, the OU has been rooted in communities across Wales and the UK, while being innovative, ambitious and reaching out to the world. It is through The OU that hundreds of thousands of students have changed their own stories and destinies, transforming lives, families and communities.

“Thanks to the huge increase in student numbers in Wales, there’ll be thousands more graduates in the years to come. It is a real privilege to work with The OU in widening access to education, pursuing a civically minded higher education sector and opening up a wide range of career opportunities to people.

“So happy birthday to The OU and here’s to the next 50 years!”

To find out more about the OU’s rich history, you can visit the digital archives: To share your story on social, tag @OUCymru and hashtag #OU50.

Lauren Williams-Jones

Campaign Assistant