Last month we reported that Apple’s iTunes U service had surpassed the 600m downloads mark, 300m of which were in the past year alone. And now it seems that The Open University in the UK is leading the university pack, notching over 40m downloads, reports the BBC.

iTunes U is basically the iTunes Store but for education, distributing information such as audio and video from lectures to learners around the world, meaning that universities and colleges have a single home for all its digital content.

With the likes of Yale University (Connecticut), MIT (Massachusetts), University of California Berkeley and University of South Florida having  more than 20m downloads to their names as of last month, The Open University (UK) and Stanford University (California) had each secured more than 30m downloads. Now though, it seems that The Open University has edged into top spot and has the clear world record for number of downloads via the Apple iTunes U service.

It seems that mobile devices have had a huge part to play in the surge in popularity of iTunes U, doubling its number of downloads in the past year. And as we wrote previously, almost a third of all traffic to iTunes U arrives from an iOS device, 60% of which is based outside of the US.

The iTunes U service launched in 2007, and it now has over 350,000 lectures from more than 1,000 universities around the world.

The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded in the UK in 1969, and it now serves hundreds of thousands of students. It’s thought that around half of the universities using iTunes U have opened up their material to anyone rather than restricting it to their own students, and it seems this has contributed massively to the popularity of The Open University’s material, with 90% of its downloads emanating from outside the UK.

Beginners’ French and Beginners’ Chinese were among the most popular downloads from The Open University on iTunes U in the past year. And recent figures show that almost a fifth of the Open University’s iTunes U visits arrive via an iPad.

Martin Bean, Vice-chancellor at The Open University, said:

“It is crucial for part-time students to be able to study when, where and how it suits them and we excel at finding new and better ways to enable students to study on the move.”