The Polytechnic University of the Philippines Open University (PUP OU) otherwise known as the "Pamantasang Bayan", which formally commenced in 1990, is a fresh and innovative system of delivering higher educational services in a manner that differs from the formal, highly structured, and classroom-oriented traditional approach.

The PUP OU is in consonance with the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Article IV mandates that quality education at all levels should be made accessible to all Filipinos and self-learning, independent, out-of-school study programs, non-formal, informal and indigenous learning systems, be developed particularly those which respond to community needs.

The PUP OU caters primarily to the needs of the economically disadvantaged students, out-of-school youths, teachers, administrators, managers, professionals and ordinary employees who want to pursue degree or non-degree courses but are unable to do so due to accessibility, time, domestic and economic constraints.

Ideally, under the Open University, the students do not have to attend classes inside a classroom. They do not even have to enter the physical campus(es) of PUP. However, because of the discovered need of the PUP student to meet and encounter their classmates and subject specialists (instructors), they are required to attend contact sessions per subject.

The PUP OU's thrust answers the call to higher education institutions to continue contributing to the efforts of the government of realizing its objectives of poverty alleviation, global competitiveness and sustainable development, for the benefit of the present and future generations of Filipinos.

The PUP Open University was established in the 1970's.The initial offerings were non-degree (technical-vocational) courses. PUP first thought of the Open University concept when then PCC President Nemesio E. Prudente saw the need to provide access to educational opportunities to millions of Filipinos who wanted to study but were constrained by time, distance and other circumstances. He was assisted by then Assistant Vice President for Branches and Head of the OU and now Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Samuel M. Salvador together with Prof. Teofilo H. Montemayor. They worked relentlessly in establishing linkages with different organizations and laid down the foundations of the OU system in PUP. However, the initial implementation fizzled out when Martial Law was declared in 1972.

When Dr. Prudente was reinstated as PUP President in 1986, he again revived the concept of the Open University System. It was formally launched in March 1990. Dr. Prudente and Dr. Salvador believed in bringing education right at the doorsteps of the people. This concept was supported fully by Dr. Zenaida A. Olonan during her presidency. The appointment of Dr. Ofelia M. Carague as president of PUP in 1998 augured well for the PUP OU since she has been one of the prime movers of the OU in the University. In the presidency of Dr. Dante G. Guevarra, the PUP OU has grown leaps and bounds as it established the three schools that presently compose it.

While broadcast-based distance learning systems in the Philippines were popular in the 1960's, it was PUP which first implemented the concept of the Open University, that is, a university within a university offering both degree and non-degree programs in the country duly certified by corresponding certificates or diplomas upon satisfactory compliance of course requirements.

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