Open University (Netherlands)

Open University (Netherlands)

Infobox University

name = Open University (Netherlands)
city = Heerlen
country = The Netherlands
established = 1984
students = 19,064
faculty = 700
website = []
type = University for distance learning

The Dutch Open Universiteit Nederland is a university or institution for distance learning for higher education at higher and university level. This means that students do not attend classes but study at home. The Open Universiteit uses a variety of methods for distance learning, including written materials, the internet, and occasional evening seminars or day sessions.


The Open Universiteit Nederland (or "Open University of the Netherlands") was founded in 1984, welcoming its first students in September 1984. It is an independent government-funded institute. The administration is based in Heerlen, in the province of Limburg, in the very south of The Netherlands. Dispersed over the Netherlands, the Open Universiteit has 12 study centres and 3 support centres, as well as 6 study centres in Dutch-speaking Flanders (Belgium) and 1 study centre in the Netherlands Antilles.

19,013 students are enrolled (in 2003) at all study or support centres in the Netherlands, including 710 students who live in other parts of the world; in 2003, 1,991 students were enrolled at a Flemish study centre. Since the Open Universiteit was founded, over 250,000 students have taken part in its courses.


The Dutch government's purpose in founding the Open Universiteit Nederland was to make higher education accessible to anyone with the necessary aptitudes and interests, regardless of formal qualifications.

The Open Universiteit identifies four further aims:
* to create a cost-effective form of higher education,
* to encourage innovation in Dutch higher education, in terms of both curriculum and teaching methods,
* to reduce the teacher shortage in Dutch primary and secondary schools, and
* to be a recognized player in (commercial) distance and e-learning training programmes and consultancy.



Chairman of the Open Universiteit is Theo Bovens, a former "wethouder" (alderman) of Maastricht. Theo Bovens succeeded Thijs Wöltgens, who retired in 2005.

Departments & faculties

The Open Universiteit is divided into four departments. The Educational department develops and provides educational materials and conducts educational programmes. It consists of six faculties, grouped according to their general focus:
* School of Management,
* School of Cultural Studies,
* School of Informatics,
* School of Natural Sciences,
* School of Psychology,
* School of Law.

Furthermore, the university has a School of Education and an Educational Technology Expertise Centre, which assists the faculties in developing courses and programmes and develops innovative teaching methods for distance education and higher education in general.

Each faculty - except for the School of Education - is headed by a dean of studies, who supervises teams of subject specialists and educational technologists engaged in developing courses and programmes, often in co-operation with specialists from other educational institutes or from trade and industry.

The other two departments are the department of Business Services and the department of Support Services, which provides operational services, ranging from staff administration to the distribution of course materials.

tudy centers


* Alkmaar
* Amsterdam
* Breda
* The Hague
* Eindhoven (at the Eindhoven University of Technology)
* Emmen, support centre
* Enschede
* Groningen
* Heerlen, also main office
* Leeuwarden, support centre
* Nijmegen (at the Radboud University Nijmegen)
* Rotterdam
* Utrecht
* Vlissingen, support centre
* Zwolle

Flanders/(nl: Vlaanderen) (Belgium)

* Antwerp (at the University of Antwerp)
* Brussels (at Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
* Diepenbeek (at Limburgs Universitair Centrum)
* Ghent (at UGent)
* Kortrijk (at K.U.Leuven-Kortrijk)
* Louvain (at K.U.Leuven)


* University of the Netherlands Antilles in Willemstad
* Paramaribo

Study programmes

The Open Universiteit offers three types of study programmes:

1) Bachelor and Master degree programmes.The Open Universiteit offers fully accredited Bachelor or Master degree programmes in Law, Economics, Business and Public administration, Engineering, Environmental science, Cultural studies and Psychology. The university converted its programmes to the Bachelor-Master structure in September 2002.

2) Short programmes.Students can also follow short programmes. These include short vocational training courses, postgraduate courses and short undergraduate programmes, which are developed in co-operation with universities of professional education, academic universities, professional bodies or commercial companies.

3) Courses.Besides these academic programmes, students can choose from over 300 modular courses. This modular course system implies that student can enrol either for full-length degree programmes or choose to study one of over 400 individual courses.

Most course-material is in Dutch, but more and more material is becoming available in English. Examinations are in general in Dutch and have to be taken at one of the locations of the Open Universiteit, that is, either at a study centres or at a support centres in the Netherlands, Flanders or the Netherlands Antilles. For individuals there are possibilities to have (under strict supervision conditions) an exam taken at an alternative location, such as at Dutch embassies, in prisons or on a ship.


People from all walks of life and all ages take advantage of the Open Universiteit. There are no entry requirements other than the ability to study at an appropriate level. The Open Universiteit is especially popular with those who cannot physically attend a traditional university (because they are disabled, abroad, in prison, or serving in the armed forces), or who wish to study a first (or additional) degree while holding down a full time job, whether to progress their career or allow them to change their career. About 70% of the students remain in paid employment throughout their studies.

External links

* [ official website Open Universiteit Nederland (]
* [ Overview of all Bachelor's programmes at the Open University]

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