The first wave of UK and Irish Universities have appeared within the iTunes U service of the Apple media service.

Content from the Open University, University College, London and Trinity College Dublin appeared on the iTunes U service overnight. And the available content is world class and available for free to iTunes users.

Sample content from Open University covers the gamut of the distance learning college's topical offerings, from the social sciences to arts and humanities and engineering and more. There's even a video lecture by Lord Puttnam on the opportunities for broadcasters and others in the internet age.

Open University vice chancellor Brenda Gourley said: "The iTunes U project is an exciting new opportunity for anyone, anywhere in the world to gain easy access to Open University courses. Our aim is to partner our established distance learning expertise with the power of the internet to provide as mobile, flexible and personalised learning as possible, whatever your current educational level, personal circumstances or technological abilities. We are delighted to be joining with leading institutions around the world to pool curriculum and content to suit your needs, and hopefully to offer you useful accreditation and recognition at every stage of your studies."

Similar swathes of content have also been made available by University College, London and Trinity College Dublin.

The former offers talks and lectures by UCL academics, interviews and news of UCL research, and information for prospective staff and students. Two priority areas for UCL are in the spotlight first: Enterprise, bringing innovations in research to the marketplace, and Global Health.

Highlights of UCL on iTunes U include: a virtual tour of this year’s UCL Slade School of Fine Art Summer Show and recent lectures by high-profile speakers, such as Dr Tadataka Yamada of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

UCL president and provost professor Malcolm Grant said: "UCL is one of the world’s leading universities, with an ethos not only of excellence, but also of innovation and accessibility. It is entirely in keeping with this ethos that we engage with new technologies to further our teaching, learning and engagement with the public. We are pleased to be leading the way in Europe."