1969 – The Open University is founded, with a Students Association part of the early plans.


1972 – On 16 May 1972, the University's Council approved the formation of the Open University Students Association. During the course of the year, the first elections and meetings took place, and Millie Marsland was elected the first president. The student leaders met for the first time at Walton Hall on 16 December 1972.

1973 – The OU held its first degree ceremony. The Association has played a part in these up to the present day, selling OU branded merchandise and souvenirs.

1974 – The Association helped the development of alternative formats for students with additional requirements.

1975 – By the mid-70s, Student Representatives sat on the major decision-making bodies of the University – which continues to this day.

1976 – In the mid-70s, the Association helped students with disabilities to take part in regular international tours to Italy, Russia and Turkey, using a specially-converted bus.

1977 – No more £1 membership fee! From this point onward, every OU student has become an automatic member of the Students Association at no cost.

1978 – The Mandatory Grants Campaign came to life, fighting to gain access to grants for OU students. Today, part-time students are able to take out student loans for their studies.


1982 – Our charity, Open University Students Educational Trust (OUSET) was founded to help students in financial hardship. OUSET continues its important work to support OU students today.

1985 – President Iris Keating, and the then Vice President Campaigns Chris Roworth, delivered a petition with 160,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, signalling our tireless support for The Open University against government cuts.

1989 – The Association successfully lobbied the University to remove the requirements for students to have completed two Foundation courses before commencing degree-level study.


1992 – The Association successfully helped to secure Bachelor of Science (BSc) Open degrees (formally, the Open degree was only available as a Bachelor of Arts (BA)). Now, students could proudly show their field of study to prospective employers.

1995 – OUSA Services Ltd. was formed, taking over from OUSA Marketing in running the OU students shop, providing Open University merchandise and vital past exam papers.

1997 – In March, Senate approved the introduction of named BA and BSc degrees. This was strongly supported by the Association, with a motion backing their swift implementation receiving approval at Conference.

1998 – OU students were given access to visit and use the OU Library on campus in Milton Keynes.


2000 – Following a successful pilot, Peer Support was made available for students looking for a motivational helping-hand for their studies.

2003 – The Disabled Students Group, previously called the Enabled Students Group, was established to provide advice and support for students with seen and unseen disabilities.

2005 – The NUS card was made available for OU students, now rebranded as 'TOTUM', which gives students access to a form of student identification, as well as a variety of discounts.


2011 – The Association was part of the successful campaign to make student loans available to part-time undergraduates.

2013 – We undertook a major staffing re-organisation project, which resulted in the introduction of the Association’s first-ever teams dedicated to communications, operations and research.

2013 – In 2013 and 2014, we worked with the University to introduce a completely new approach to student consultations by the OU, including a mix of online and face-to-face consultations, and topics driven by students. 

2014 – We piloted our first-ever virtual Freshers Fair, and it was so successful that it has been a mainstay ever since! As part of this, we also piloted our online radio broadcast STUDIO for the first time, which also went on to become a main feature for the next few years.

2014 – Also in 2014, a team of OU students selected by the Association made a return to the live televised rounds of University Challenge for the first time in several years, and our selection process was featured as part of the BBC’s Class of 2014 documentary. 

2015 – The Association teamed up with London Nightline to provide a listening service for OU students.

2016 – The Association's first Central Executive Committee was elected, where every OU student was given the right to vote – replacing the previous Conference delegate voting system.

2017 – Building on a legacy of inclusion and diversity within our OU community, we formally integrated our LGBTQI+ group, OU Pride (formerly known as PLEXUS), with the Association.

2019 – We launched the Library Study Volunteer Service. This is an important volunteering service that seeks to support OU students studying in a secure environment, such as prison.

2019 – In the same year, the Association earned its Investing in Volunteers national accreditation, alongside facilitating two student-led projects. These projects led to thousands of items being donated to homeless charities in Milton Keynes, and 250 wellbeing boxes being posted to OU students across the community. 

2019 – The Association's online student magazine The Hoot was launched. Since then, OU students from around the world have been encouraged to contribute blogs, stories and articles about their lives as students, to inspire and motivate others.


2020 – We proudly formalised our affiliation with our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Students Group, which supports students whose experience could be affected by their race, colour, heritage or ethnicity. The group's first elected committee took the reigns in 2021.

2020 – With a national pandemic taking over the news and changing our lives at the start of this new decade, the Association held its first ever fully-online Conference, moving plans from a face-to-face event to a fully-online one in less than 12 weeks. This Conference had the highest engagement from students, and highest voting figures, of any Conference in recent years.

2021 – The Students Association launched a Student Advice (Individual Representation) Service in an 18-month long pilot. The service provides support, help and guidance for students who are going through a complaint or appeal procedure with the University.

2021 – A new micro-volunteer role was launched, enabling OU students to engage in their student community by taking part in small, time-limited projects and activities.

2022 – The Association celebrated its 50th birthday (see below)!