Decision about the public lectures had been reached in 1907 but it took three years, until the spring 1910, to verify all the rules for their opening. Therefore, public university lectures were ready to begin in November 1912. Dr Ferdo Šišić, a historian and a chronicler, held the first lecture at the public university department about genesis and break of the Ottoman Empire.
Authorities of the time tried to prevent beginning of the activities at Public University by being slow with verifying the rules and starting the lectures. Unfortunately, there were ones against public enlightenment among university professors, too.
A need of establishing secondary-school extension that would work in the other Croatian towns in the context of secondary-schools - grammar schools appeared along with the university extension. Lectures on various topics and historical subjects were held in Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Varaždin, Rijeka, Sušak, Opatija and Pula.
After The World War I, when Croatia became a part of a new country, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, activities at Public University came to a standstill. Dr. Albert Bazala who was a commissioner for Croatia of the Country Government at years of the twentieth, took his role in re-establishment of Public University. Numerous lectures on history, linguistics, other humanistic subjects, economy, biology and medicine were held.
In 1921, the first active year after the war, there were 17.000 attendants of the lectures. During 25 years between the two wars, in Public University there were 2.764 lectures attended by 406.717 listeners.
Reputation of the University was evident by many lecturers from abroad who taught students there along with professors from different faculties in Zagreb.
Under the direct influence of Public University in Zagreb, 18 secondary-schools extensions were founded in other Croatian towns. That marked out the beginning of the future national universities as the ones founded in Croatian towns at the 1930’s. Activities of Public University were known abroad, especially among our emigrants in America who supported it financially.
On the model of the universities of that kind in Denmark and influenced by Public University in Zagreb, Peasant University for Adult Agriculturists Education was established within the School of Public Health in Zagreb. It was visited by many experts from Europe and America.
On the 23rd October 1932, Public University celebrated its first anniversary- 25 years of its establishment and 20 years of work. The celebration started with a festive conference which was presided over by its establisher Dr Alber Bazala who became a chancellor of the University in Zagreb. Two important lectures of symbolic title and stimulating content were held on this occasion. It was ''Everlasting flame'' by Dr Bazala and '' Sight into the future'' by Dr. Vouk.
The name of the Public University was changed by communist authorities into the Central Public University. It was under the supervision of Republic Ministry at the time which prescribed new rules. However, University kept its basic purpose and its method of work. However, aside linguistic changes there were changes in the Board structure. Representatives of public workers from some class associations, trade unions and students. Not only university professors but as well other employees and advanced students could be lecturers. Therefore, other activists of the party of the authority could take opportunity to act ideologically. University got new rooms and a big lecture-room.
Public University is not more centrally oriented with the new organization of the authority at the time. Since 1954 it is under the general supervision of the Education Department of Zagreb and still it had duty to help other public universities in Croatia until Association of Public Universities of Republic of Croatia was founded. The Association coordinated, promoted and directed the work of the public universities.
Public universities became social institutions for adult education and enlightenment as legal party under the general supervision of the Counsel for education, science and culture. By this regulation from 1954, activities of the university extension stopped and the Public University in Zagreb got new structure and developed considering political moment of the time of being.
Since 1948 after regulation of financial authorities the University started with self-financing and with 1950 new ways of work were introduced, for example Foreign language school, different kinds of seminars and courses were held, evenings with literature, discussions on film, art, music, economy, health enlightenment, tourism, sport, philosophy and other.
The idea to integrate Public University of Zagreb with the Worker University ''Moša Pijade'' appeared and was realized in May 1980. The name was changed into Worker and Public University '' Moša Pijade'' - Zagreb.
From 1962 the University has been working in a new, well equipped building.
In the year 1990 the university changed its name and got its original name: The Open University - the institution for education, culture, information. Even during the war years, the University organized educational programs all around Croatia. From 1998, according to the Croatian Public and Open Universities Law, the institution has been using the name: Public Open University Zagreb.
Today POUZ is the largest adult education institution in the Republic of Croatia with 300 educational programs, around 3.000 students and 500 teachers and trainers per year. POUZ is, according to the program concept and models of public and open universities located throughout the Europe, open for public and community interests, while as an educational institution it is open also for all participants, from school and third age students, for participants that have just started their vocational training, as well as for those who wish to attend skill improvement and specialized training courses.