The European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) is the leading institutional university network for online, open and distance higher education. It is at the heart of innovation in the European Education Area, and in particular in the European Higher Education Area.

Founded in 1987, the Association has a long history of innovation in higher education. During this time, the secretariat and members have jointly built up a long experience and in-depth expertise in this field. Further information and evidence-based actions are continuously being set up.

Recently, specific actions have been realized and consolidated related to the continuing professional development of university staff and leadership (EMPOWER); hybrid, blended and online on campus education; continuing education and continuing professional development through short learning programs and microcredentials; open education and MOOCs (OpenupEd); course and curriculum cooperation and mobility; university-business cooperation; and quality assurance for blended and online education (E-xcellence).

These activities are set up in permanent interaction with universities and form the basis for policy recommendations for national governments and the European Union, which contribute to the Bologna Process and the further development of the European Higher Education Area.

They directly support university institutions in the development of digital education in all areas of the educational offer and promote quality assurance and recognition of digital education in collaboration with national quality assurance agencies.

In addition, EADTU has established Task Force & Special Interest Groups for policies and good practices related to diversity and inclusion through digital pedagogies and tools, the recognition of informal and non-formal learning, and for e-assessment.

Furthermore, EADTU develops models and guidelines for supporting collaboration and mobility in European University Alliances (EUI) and other networks.

EADTU also coordinates the European MOOC consortium which consists of all major MOOC platforms (FutureLearn (UK), FUN MOOCs (FR), Miriadax (ES), EduOpen (IT) and the OpenupEd MOOC platform.

The objectives of these activities are directly and indirectly linked to the objectives of the Digital Education Action Plan, the European Skills Agenda and the European Education Area, in particular the acquisition of competences for employability and entrepreneurship; empower and support teaching staff; innovation and excellence; creating partnerships and open dialogue with stakeholders and policy makers; and actions related to civil society in general.


The General Assembly

In the General Assembly all EADTU Members are represented. It is chaired by the President of EADTU. The GA consists of universities (represented by their Rectors) and organisations including consortia (represented by their directors) whose primary mission is online, open and distance learning. 

The Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board is responsible for the management of the EADTU as an institutional association. It operates within the conditions set by the General Assembly and is supported by the EADTU Office.

The Rectors Conference

The Rectors from open and distance learning universities, constitute the EADTU Rectors Conference to discuss strategic issues and set the goals and actions to their specific needs.

The Associations Conference

The directors of universities and university associations - operating in online, open and distance learning - constitute the EADTU Associations Conference to discuss strategic issues and set the goals and actions to their specific needs.

  • President EADTU

    Ricardo Mairal Usón is Full Professor of Linguistics at UNED since 2002. He has been the Vicerrector for Research and Knowledge Transfer (2013-2016), Vicerrector for Teaching Staff and Academic Planning and First Vicerrrector (2016-2018), and he is currently the Rector at the UNED. He has also been the President of the Spanish Association for Applied Linguistics during 2011-2017 (AESLA)

    His main areas of research interest are lexical knowledge representation, neurolinguistics and computational linguistics. He has been involved and participated in over 20 research projects funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Ministry of Education and the Regional Government of Madrid. He has co-authored or co-edited a number of books including: Nuevas perspectivas en Gramática Funcional (Ariel, 1999) awarded the Nation Research Price AEDEAN 1999, Constructing a lexicon of English verbs (Mouton de Gruyter, 1999), New perspectives on argument structure in Functional Grammar (Mouton de Gruyter, 2002), En torno a los universales lingüísticos (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Linguistic Universals (Cambridge University Press). He has also published over sixty scholarly articles which have appeared in specialised national and international journals. He has also lectured extensively as keynote speaker at national and international conferences on Applied and Theoretical Linguistics and has participated as an invited Professor in several doctoral programmes at other universities, both national and international. He has served as a scientific committee member for several specialised journals, including Cuadernos de Investigación Filología, Atlantis, RESLA, Estudios Ingleses de la Universidad Complutense, Onomázein and Functions of Language. He has done occasional review work for Cognitive Linguistics and Language Sciences and has also been a member of the advisory committee of various international conferences on Role and Reference Grammar.


  • The Supervisory Board is responsible for the management of the EADTU as an institutional association. It operates within the conditions set by the General Assembly and is supported by the EADTU Office.

    The Supervisory Board is a reflection of the membership and consists of the President, Vice-President and Supervisory Board members. The General Assembly (re)elects a President and Supervisory Board members. The Vice-President is elected among the Supervisory Board members. The executive term for all positions within the Supervisory Board is set for two years.

    Members of EADTU's Supervisory Board

    Ricardo Mairal ZW



    President EADTU
    Rector Magnificus




    Liz def


     The Open University UK

    Vice-President EADTU
    Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor-Students, United Kingdom



    Aarhus University

    Associate Professor
    Danish School of Education




    MB def  

    Dublin City University

    Director National Institute for Digital Learning
    Republic of Ireland




    President FIED





    CvB TheoBastiaens portret vierkant  

    Open Universiteit NL

    Rector Magnificus
    The Netherlands

    Uwe Els 2012


    Fernuniversität in Hagen

    Head of the Department of Lifelong Learning at the Institute for Education and Media Research





    Jukka Lerkkanen  

    Open University of Jyväskylä 


  • The EADTU Office is responsible for the daily management of the EADTU network and implementation of its action-lines. The allocation and prioritisation of activities of the EADTU office are the responsibility of the managing director. This is shared with the executive committee as supervisor of the realisation of the annual activity plan.

     George Ubachs
     Managing Director
     Tel: +31 43 311 87 12
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    Alessandra Antonaci 
    Programme Manager 
    Tel. +31 6 12 15 50 24
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    Beau Nijsten
    Communications Officer
    Tel. + 31 43 311 87 12 
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    Stefan Meuleman
    Academic Services
    Tel: +31 43 311 87 12
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     Miriam de Bie
    Financial Officer
     Tel: +31 43 311 87 12
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     Annette Diederen
     Financial Officer
     Tel: +31 43 311 87 12
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  • The European Student Council for Open and Distance Learning was created during the EADTU Conference 2009 in Maastricht. The mission of the European Student Council ODL is to keep an open line of communication between European students and all the aspects that affect the student experience. The general principles of the council will be the maintenance and promotion of equal opportunities, education quality and transparency. Their aim is to help to develop a Europe without barriers for distance and blended learning students as stated in the Bologna Declaration.

Activity Cycle

The activity cycle of EADTU outlines a cycle of steps from idea to mainstreamed innovative actions and expertise building, always involving both the institutional and also the governmental level. It works with advanced experts and with R&D centres in the membership. Members play a variety of roles in each of the layers in the EADTU activity cycle, e.g. as: member of the Board, the Rectors’ Meeting or the Associations’ Meeting; expert in the preparation of position papers and European Union consultation meetings; leader or expert in an EADTU task force or project. 

The EADTU’s activity cycle from project towards mainstreamed implementation is essential to actually effect change in a sustainable way. The cycle provides a bottom-up approach valorising results of projects and task forces in expertise and service centres and long term action programmes.


European partners:

European Commission

EADTU is one of the key partners for the European Commission in developing a shared vision and leadership for the role of online, open and distance higher education. EADTU activities strongly support the long term programmes and policies of the EC, including the Digital Education Action Plan, the European Skills Agenda and the European Education Area


The European University Association (EUA) represents more than 800 universities and national rectors’ conferences in 48 European countries. EUA plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and in influencing EU policies on higher education, research and innovation. Through continuous interaction with a range of other European and international organisations, EUA ensures that the independent voice of European universities is heard.


The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) is an umbrella organisation which represents quality assurance organisations from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) member states. ENQA promotes European co-operation in the field of quality assurance in higher education and disseminates information and expertise among its members and towards stakeholders in order to develop and share good practice and to foster the European dimension of quality assurance.


The European Distance and E-Learning Network exists to share knowledge and improve understanding amongst professionals in distance and e-learning and to promote policy and practice across the whole of Europe and beyond.


The European Students’ Union (ESU) is the umbrella organisation of 45 National Unions of Students (NUS) from 40 countries. The NUSes are open to all students in their respective country regardless of political persuasion, religion, ethnic or cultural origin, sexual orientation or social standing. Our members are also student-run, autonomous, representative and operate according to democratic principles. ESU was formerly known as ESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe. 

Associate partners:


The European Union – Latin America and Caribbean Foundation (EU-LAC Foundation) was created in 2010 by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) member states. Its Members are the Member states of the EU and CELAC as well as the EU itself. The Foundation is a tool of the EU-LAC partnership and its activities feed into the intergovernmental dialogue, in line with the bi-regional Action Plan.


The Organization of Ibero-American States, formally the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture, is an international organization whose members are the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking nations of the Americas and Europe and Equatorial Guinea in Africa. The purpose of the OEI is to promote intergovernmental cooperation among its member nations, primarily in the fields of education, science, technology and the arts.

Global partners:


ICDE is the leading global membership organisation for enhancing the quality of open, distance, flexible and online education, including e-learning.


In their annual conference, EMOOCs brings together international top-quality educational research with teaching practitioners, platform providers, policy makers, and educational businesses. 

Media partners:


StudyPortals is the international study choice platform, enabling students to find and compare their study options across borders. With over 120,000 published courses from over 2,450 participating universities and over 19 million unique visitors per year, StudyPortals is a leading information source for study seekers. StudyPortals was initiated out of an international student organization in 2008 and initially focused on the European education market.

Since 2014 the organization, with its headquarter in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, expanded its services and is now also covering universities in the US, Canada and Australia and Asia. For universities, StudyPortals is a key channel for international student recruitment.