So, what is an open university? The concept of an open university means that anyone can study courses, sometimes receiving credits or degrees, without entry requirements. Or at least, without high standards for entry requirements. This type of university model allows for anyone to get an education at their own pace. It is usually done via distance learning methods, including online courses. However, it’s not synonymous with distance learning, which can be offered at traditional universities as well.
Let’s take a look at Canada’s open university options…
Thompson Rivers University – This BC-based open university has a distance learning and open enrolment section to their school. You can get full bachelor degrees with open enrolment admission at this school.
Athabasca University – an Alberta-based open, online education provider. They do have a minimum age requirement and you may need some prerequisites. Other than that, enrolment is open.
University of Guelph – This Ontario-based university also offers an open learning section in their traditional university. The advantage here is that they offer ‘Guaranteed Admission Pathways’ to their official BA programs, if you take some of their open learning courses (with some requirements). Students may need to take a language proficiency test, and may not be able to take these courses if they are in high school.
Keep in mind that in addition to the above open university options in Canada, there can be international options for attending an open university. For example, The Open University in the UK offers programs to peoples around the world, including Canadians.
Also, while the above list is not long, some universities in Canada offer plenty of online courses. The website below can explain more about those options, if you are waiting to get into a program, or would like to build your course credits from multiple institutions:
More information can be read about online learning options in Canada below (though many links are not working, it’s a good start for a search on the topic):
And, another option to look into are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These can be a combination of courses available at multiple universities, while not comprising a single open university program. Here is a list of MOOCs in Canada:
The Globe and Mail also wrote an article about MOOCs in Canada, which you may want to check out here:
Why attend an open university at all?
Sometimes, credits from an open university can transfer to a traditional university. If you are a student, or parent of a student, who didn’t get into a university of your choice, Canada’s open university options may be a way to keep up with studies while re-applying for the next semester or school year. This can be a time saver for those who want to graduate within a certain time period.
Even if you have been accepted into a formal university, Canada’s open university options may still benefit you. For example, they may give you access to courses that your university or college doesn’t offer. Of course, if you want those courses credited towards your degree, you may have to ask your university if they will accept the open university credits.
Or it may be that you simply like the option of distance learning for a particular course. Or, you may like learning at your own pace while working to earn money at the same time. In any scenario, open universities are designed to be ‘open’ – meaning flexible for anyone to learn, regardless of their reasons for not attending a traditional, institutionalized university.
For more information on what ‘openness’ means in the context of benefiting education for all, while attending an open university, we recommend reading this article:
See our related articles on open education and open educational resources (OERs):
- How teachers can benefit from open education resources (OERs)
- Ways to use open education resources (OERs) when teaching
- What is the flipped classroom model?
- Benefits of teaching students using iTunes U