There are two categories of students in NOU's undergraduate programs, namely, 'regular' and 'non-regular' students.
'Regular students' have a right to apply for their graduation. Before SY 1997, to become a regular student, a learner needed to pass the entrance examination, be 20 years of age or above, and be a holder of diploma from a senior high school or the equivalent. In March 1997, the entrance examination was abolished.
'Non-regular students' are not eligible for graduation. Learners who just want to study with the NOU and who do not fulfil the requirements of regular students can apply to become non-regular students. The only condition for becoming a non-regular student is the age; non-regular students need to be at least 18 years old. Non-regular students study with regular students without being treated differently.
For those non-regular students who do not receive a diploma from a senior high school or the equivalent can apply for transforming to become regular students after they have accumulated 40 course-credits from the NOU.
Since SY 1990, the NOU has been recruiting students three times a year. There were 33,643 students (both regular and non-regular students) per head in the first semester of SY 2002.
Among them, the regular students made up the largest portion, about 90.71 per cent.
In the student pool, the percentage of female is usually higher, for example, 71.18 per cent in the first semester of SY 2002. Students aged between 30-44 are often the largest portion of student profile, for instance, 61.35 per cent in the first semester of SY 2002. Regarding students' previous educational qualification, the graduates from both senior high schools and senior vocational schools normally form the biggest group, e.g. 56.02 per cent in the first semester in SY 2002. As far as students' occupation is concerned, civil servants make up the largest portion, 25.20 per cent in the first semester of SY 2002.
As a whole, the NOU has recruited around 250,000 students since the University was set up in 1986.
The University provides the student-support service in a number of ways. With an academic support system, students can probe questions in their courses by making phone calls in allocated time on a weekly basis to full-time academics who teach the courses in face-to-face classes. In addition, several courses have set up their own websites for the communication between academics and students.
Students can write e-mails to individual academics or academic departments, too.
For supporting new students to cope with their first encounter with studying at a distance, the NOU set up a special system in 2001. Regional study centers put new students into special classes. These new students can contact their tutors (who are full-time academics) by phone or fax during a time allocated to them on a weekly basis. Tutors of new-student groups participate in students' activities as well.
In each regional study center, student clubs are organized which offer students extra curricular activities. Regional study centers also provide counseling services to students. For example, students with psychological or emotional problems can be arranged to receive counselor's help. The University provides scholarships to students whose academic performance is particularly well and who have obtain special achievements. The University offers financial support to students who require special needs, too.
The NOU provides a print-based student support as well. It publishes a magazine to students twice a month, which contains university announcements, broadcasting schedules and supplementary readings. The free monthly 'NOU News', starting from 2002, is in the form of newspaper.
Moreover, the 'Special Section of the NOU' running about 3/4 of a page is included in a national daily newspaper, which
appears five times a week for disseminating the information about the NOU to students and society.
Not just in print, the 'NOU e-News' appears in NOU website weekly too, with the first issue in 2002.
The NOU provides student support via TV and radio as well. There is a weekly supportive type TV and radio program. These programs introduce various aspects of the NOU. Some of these programs consist of live conversations between students, academics and managers of the University.
For graduation, regular students need to both have accumulated at least 128 course-credits and have fulfilled other regulations for graduation. As an open learning institution, the NOU does not impose a restriction on the study period. Students can take courses based on their needs and by considering their own circumstances.
The NOU produced its first group of graduates, 10, in the first semester of SY 1990. The first graduation ceremony for 58 graduates was held in September 1991. The Legislative Yuan afterwards passed a bill in April 1994 to grant the NOU the power to offer bachelor's degrees. This change implied that the NOU was eventually recognized by the society. The number of total graduates was quickly increased through the years. In the end of SY 2000, the accumulated amount of graduates reached 14,395, with 2,591 in SY 2000.
The bachelor's degree awarded by the NOU is recognized by Ministry of Education.
The record shows that graduates of the NOU can pass the entrance exam for post-graduate programs in conventional universities. They are successful in the examinations of recruiting civil servants, too.