the open university in britain
1 in 1963 the leader of the labour party made a speech explaining plans for a “ university of the air”-an educational system which would make use of television， radio and correspondence courses. many people laughed at the idea， but it became part of the labour party s programme to give educational opportunity to those people who， for one reason or another， had not had a chance to receive further education.
2 by 1969 plans were well advanced and by august 1970 the open university， as it is now called， had received 400，000 applications. only 25，000 could be accepted for the four “foundation” courses offered： social sciences， arts， science and mathematics. unsuccessful candidates were told to apply again the following year， when a foundation course in technology would also be offered.
3 the first teaching programmes appeared on the air and screen in january 1971， with clerks， farm workers， housewives， teachers， policemen and many others as students. correspondence units had been carefully prepared and science students were given devices for a small home laboratory. study centers have been set up all over the country so that students can attend once a week， and once a year they will spend a week at one of the university s summer schools.
4 it has been nearly 30 years since the open university started to offer courses. now it is a very important part of the british educational system. not only does it offer foundation courses like those mentioned above， it also carries out very advanced scientific researches， some of which lead to master s or ph.d degrees. many other countries have started similar educational programmes following the successful example of the open university in britain.