I’ve been following the development (at a distance) of the OERu, and here’s my understanding of what it’s trying to do. The OERu (the Open Educational Resources University) aims to provide a route to formal accreditation through study of free open educational resources in the form of free courses and materials developed by accredited universities. To quote:
It does not confer degrees, but works in partnership with accredited educational institutions who provide assessment and credentialisation services on a fee-for-service basis
There are two aspects here: the provision of free open educational resources specifically designed for independent study by institutions offering accredited online programs; and the provision of assessment for qualification from one of the accredited partner institutions, or from the Network itself, presumably through a challenge exam or possibly through some process of prior learning assessment.
Thus while access to study materials is free, you have to pay an exam fee or fees in order to get the accreditation. What you don’t get is the online academic support you would get if you enrolled in the partner institutions and paid full fee. Thus while not completely free, the OERu would lead to substantially lower costs for learners (provided the exam fees are set at a reasonable level).