The Open University of China (OUC) is a new kind of higher education institution that offers open and distance education using modern information technology. It is directly administered by China’s Ministry of Education, and is dedicated to both degree and non-degree continuing education.
The OUC was recently established upon the basis of China’s Radio and TV University system. It boasts an educational network spanning multiple industries, provinces (cities) and regions. The network covers both urban and rural areas, and includes headquarters, branches, colleges and study centres. The OUC taps into the strengths of other societal resources through supportive and cooperative alliances with top universities at home and abroad, ministries, industries, leading enterprises and major municipalities. The university network operates in accordance with the principles of “unified strategy, common platform, resource sharing, relative independence, decentralised development and distinctive characteristics”. At present, 3.59 million students (1.09 million undergraduate students, 2.5 million associate degree students) are actively enrolled, including 200,000 farmers, 100,000 military personnel and more than 6,000 disabled students.
Core Values and Vision
The OUC upholds the core values of “Openness, Responsibility, Quality, Diversity and Internationalization”. It strives to meet the needs of China’s developing society and economy, and to satisfy the personal development needs of the people, particularly the educational needs of rural areas, remote areas and ethnic minority regions. The OUC shoulders its social responsibility and promotes education equality by providing flexible and diversified educational services that deliver quality educational resources. After many years of hard work, the OUC has emerged as a completely new kind of university in China’s higher education system, a world-class open university featuring China’s characteristics, and an important pillar for constructing a society of universal and lifelong learning.
The OUC currently offers 26 bachelor’s degree programmes and 69 associate degree programmes. In order to meet the evolving needs of the economy and the industry, the OUC combines modern industrial, business and regional characteristics to construct distinctive, quality courses and establish new degree programmes in a scientific, reasonable and flexible way. Various forms of non-degree education are also offered, including rich and diverse vocational certifications, community education, education for seniors, skill training, recreational activities and personal interests.
The OUC implements enrollment by registration, flexible learning and a “lenient entry, stringent exit” school system. It promotes a learner-centred learning model featuring online autonomous study integrated with distance learning support and face-to-face tutorials. Every learner has his or her own individual learning space and enjoys personalised support services. Learning progress can be evaluated constantly, and formative and summative assessment are used together to ensure the learning process and quality of learning.
The OUC operates a credit bank with the functions of credit accreditation, transfer, deposit and withdrawal. The bank helps learners establish lifelong learning portfolios and accredit or receive certificates for various learning achievements. The bank performs accreditation and transfer of credits between degree and non-degree continuing education, and bridges and connects different types of learning achievements.
The OUC has established cooperative relationships with 128 universities and educational institutions in 38 countries and regions. It is a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and also a member of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). The OUC and Michigan State University of the US jointly established the world’s first online Confucius Institute, which offers online Chinese courses to almost 10,000 students in over 100 countries and regions outside China.
Through its distance education cloud platform, various networking systems and learning terminals, the OUC digitises teaching, learning, management, research and support services. It has established a National Digital Learning Resource Centre and 109 regional sub-centres, which have accumulated over 18,000 high-quality courses and 40 TB of learning resources.