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Open University or Bricks and Mortar

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    Hi

    I am intending to return to full time study full time this September, and have two potential choices -

    Study full time with the Open University (120 points a year) or -

    Apply for an Access To Higher Education course with a view to studying a Two Year Fast Track degree validated by a local university, but offered through a college the University is in partnership with.

    Both options would take three years from beginning stages to completion, but both offer advantages and disadvantages, which are as follows -

    Having studied a Level 1 Open University course in 2011, I am potentially eligible for transitional Fee arrangements, as long as I register on a course within the next two weeks, as the the registration deadline is in two weeks time (eek!)
    I could therefore avoid the new increased University fees, work two days a week, and perhaps save up a bit of money to put towards a course to supplement the degree.

    The Two Year Fast Track Degree is currently under validation, so they are monitoring students progress to ensure that the course creates successful graduates. I would have to achieve 15 points at merit level (1 module out of 4) to gain a place, and would end up with debt at the end.

    But....I would have face to face support, and receive a degree from a highly rated University (Not Cambridge standard, but still pretty good).

    I would like to study a business subject, potentially marketing or a general business degree.

    What would you guys recommend? I am uncertain as to the value the Open University degree would have to a potential employee. I have no experience working within the business/finance sector, having been part of the educational sector for the last four years, but I have a personal interest in the business/finance sector, and would like to pursue a career in this field.
    Would really appreciate some advice on a life changing decision I need to make!
    Many Thanks.
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    Is your L1 OU course 60 credits ? I assume by studied you mean passed ? Do you have any further qualifications that are older ?

    I am asking because prior to discussing the other aspects you raise, we should qualify whether you need to do an Access Course at all in order to attend a Brick Uni. Unis like Sheffield, Nottingham, York, Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, were looking for 120 OU credits, without old A levels. So you might have another option. An individual on here has an offer based upon 90 OU credits for example.

    My wife and I studied with the OU some years back, and we used those modules to successfully apply to brick Uni's direct, whilst it is true that I had old A levels, my wife did not. We start in Sept/Oct.
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    i would always recommend a bricks and mortar university, just for the student experience and the learning environment
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    Evening Sunrise, I did pass the course with a pretty decent result, but it's not really linked to the field of study that I wish to undertake (The course was Design and Innovation - tenuous link I guess), I would have to acquire a further 60 points in a subject that is more closely related to the University degree. I have e-mailed the person responsible for fielding enquiries to ask if they except OU points, but no response so far.

    I'm sensing that the general consensus is that a Bricks and Mortar University is the way to go - even though I could accumulate £20000+ of debt.

    I've been racking my brain over this, the clean bill of financial health, or the debt and the 'prestige.'

    Would still appreciate some more opinions though, I know a 1st is difficult to achieve with the OU, so I guess that is a consideration as well.

    Thanks
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    To be honest I don't think prestige is all what it cracks up to be half the time. In most careers actual work experience (something which will probably supplement your OU degree) will be placed higher than any academic achievements. Also, there will always be opportunities to build on an OU degree if it doesn't quite satisfy you in later life (Masters at a university?) although I think you'll find the OU is generally quite respected and will open doors for you.

    Conversely, I considered once when I was at university (supposedly one of the best maths departments in the UK) to transfer to OU. I chose not to because I think the best decision is to mostly stick with what you've got if you're unsure. If I was in your position, I would probably stay with the OU, avoid huge amounts of debt and make it work.

    Its your choice at the end of the day.
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    Thank You for the advice Menrva, food for thought....

    Problem is, I have no experience in Business/Marketing to back up an Open University degree in that field, and If I undertook one, I would spend at least two years studying at full time level. Employers might question why I was studying with the OU but not working as well - answer: I want to obtain a degree over three/four years as opposed to six!

    I don't know the extent of financial help I could obtain if I choose to study at a University, can you enquire before submitting a UCAS Application?

    I might post this thread elsewhere to try and elicit a few more responses, this is a massive decision making process, I need as much advice as possible!
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    Yep, most OU vs brick uni threads are posted in the OU subforum. http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=206
    All I'd add is that the OU Business School is one of its strongest assets. The flagship is the internationally recognised MBA, which is the UK's most popular. But as you say most people doing OU business courses will be in work and trying to climb the career ladder.
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    (Original post by Entroducing)
    Evening Sunrise, I did pass the course with a pretty decent result, but it's not really linked to the field of study that I wish to undertake (The course was Design and Innovation - tenuous link I guess), I would have to acquire a further 60 points in a subject that is more closely related to the University degree. I have e-mailed the person responsible for fielding enquiries to ask if they except OU points, but no response so far.

    I'm sensing that the general consensus is that a Bricks and Mortar University is the way to go - even though I could accumulate £20000+ of debt.

    I've been racking my brain over this, the clean bill of financial health, or the debt and the 'prestige.'

    Would still appreciate some more opinions though, I know a 1st is difficult to achieve with the OU, so I guess that is a consideration as well.

    Thanks
    OK, I do not think we have sufficient data to give a fully considered opinion, and an opinion is all anyone on here can provide. Firstly are you aware that doing an OU degree is around 2500 GBP per 60 credits ? If you cannot afford this from your salary you can now get a student loan. I hope the repayment regime has some differences to that for a brick uni, because your repayments in a brick uni are not based upon what you have borrowed but what you earn, beyond 21K pa, based upon another thread on here. At that rate it would cost you 2500 for 6 years = 15K, but of course if you're working you can feed and house yourself (and family if you have one) and you will not incur loans for that amount. The key point is will your repayments be any less at 15K for the OU compared to the repayments of circa 40K from a brick ? Someone who understands the loan payment regime for the OU will have to advise.

    Your background, in terms of your career to date, is a material variable in the equation as is the type of career you wish to pursue and with what sort of employer and in what role you see yourself "breaking into the field" with.


    If you have a lot of experience in business, but are struggling to progress, despite being recognised as a good/excellent performer, because every job advert you open states a requirement of graduate.


    Then doing the OU degree would provide a perfectly well respected graduate status, to tick the box on the application and get your experience considered and evaluated further. You will learn some stuff too. I would also argue that the degree subject in this scenario could be almost anything sensible but the subject of Business and (finance/Law/Marketing or whatever) is a sensible choice.


    If you have zero back ground in "business" (hence my question around the experience to date) then the following factors kick in from my persective.


    a) I brick Uni will give you a lot of interaction with other students, first hand practise and experience at brain storming, debating in tutorials, workshop dynamics and techniques, probably assessed towards your honours. Working in a group to produce a marketing strategy, or finanical strategy, where at the start there are diverse views held by the team members. Leadership styles, and learning styles, plus team dynamics, first hand. Simply doing written assignments based upon some theory (I use the term loosly) in these aspects is of limited value.

    b) At brick Uni you could opt for a course that has a years relevent placement in the business sector, which will be worth its weight in gold.

    c) My final thought is that in the context of someone breaking into the business and marketing area, with no relevent back ground, I am not sure what business studies is. I know some one who did the degree at a brick as a mature student and I have spoken to him several times as our wives are close friends. I do not understand what the the subject is anymore than I understand what a Space Scientist is, as I posted in another thread. I understand the type of modules included I just do not understand what the whole is and what job it prepares someone for. I do understand it in the context of it constituting a valid entry ticket to a graduate scheme.

    I am now off to do some decorating whilst the business degree folks let rip..
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    In your position I would go the OU route. As you are aiming for a course in business related field, having a continuing work history by working 2 days a week will be an advantage. There are many people who gain Business related degrees but what differentiates them is work experience. The more relevant the better.

    As you won't be studying directly at the bricks and motar university that will be validating the degree, the "university" experience that you will gain will be limited. The level of feedback that you get will depend very much on the quality of the lecturers at the college you are studying at. There can also be issues if you are close to achieving 1st, as they may not have sufficient experience to be confident of awarding you the higher grade. Higher marks may be subject to higher level of review at exam boards to ensure that the standard is maintained. Consequently there may be marks awarded just below the threshold for a 1st. How valuable your interactions with your fellow students will be, may vary from year to year and assignment. I am doing online courses at the moment and have far more interaction from the online student community than I did at bricks and motar one. But that may be just me.

    If you would not be happy with distance learning and you are eligible for student finance, then ultimately it comes down to your attitude to student loan debt. If you view it as investment in yourself which subject to earnings will be paid off at the prevailing rate, then the loan level is not the issue. If debt however benign gives you cause for concern and you can manage the OU study mode, then that is the no brainer option, assuming with your current mode of working you will earn sufficient to pay the fees.
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    I guess I should clarify that if I sign up for a 'Level 1 Introduction to Business Studies' OU Course stating this May, then I can avoid paying the higher fees, count my existing 60 points towards a degree, complete a further 30 points by october and then begin full time OU study whilst working one or two days a week.

    I can cover the fees at that price, but not the new higher prices that are being introduced in September.

    Time is an issue -

    If I studied at the 'Brick and Mortar', I would be hoping to try and get on a two year fast track degree in September 2013, by attending an Access Course from September 2012 onwards.

    That rules out a year of work experience, I don't think it is offered as part of the course, and it relies on good access To Higher Education Results, as well as acceptance on to the course. These are all variables, each stage has to be achieved.

    I don't think I could really afford to take four years out, three is my limit!

    I have no A levels -
    but five GCSE's with a highest grade of C, a City and Guilds Adult Numeracy Level 2 Pass, 60 points of OU study at Level 1 under my belt, and I am three weeks away from completing a Preparing To Teach In The Lifelong Learning Sector 'threshold' Qualification at Level 3 (Interesting, but not want I want to pursue).

    All my work experience thus far has been either within retail, or as a Teaching Assistant.
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    As you sound like you are over 21 and are looking to pursue a Business degree in 2 years rather than the normal 3. You may considered some of the non conventional partner colleges/institutions who will take into account your past study and may offer you a place on on degree course. Some of their fees are more attractive and you may have a choice of institution to graduate from. You can enhance the value of your study by doing a Master's afterwards. Disadvantage is that these 2 year courses are aimed at international students, but that does not necessarily mean you won't be taught appropriately. Look at UCAS L70 and their UK/EU student fees. They cram the 2 years into 3 by only having 4 weeks between terms, no long summer holidays. Another option is Buckingham University, again private but degree awarding in their own right with a reasonable reputation, their course undergradurate courses have always been 2 year long, but I think eligible for student loans. But you probably have to top them up.

    But before embarking on an acclerated degree course be very sure that you will be able to cope with the pace and that it is a course you really want to do.
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    I would just like to add something to this..

    The debt isn't the same as, say, a personal loan. The rates are minimal and you are unlikely to ever pay back more than £67.50 a month. Even then it is cleared after 30 years. Personally; I see it as a very small price to pay for a decent education & to do something that I love

    As for taking 4 years: if you take a year in industry (very good idea) then the university fees for that year are about £1,500 (depending on inflation etc.) and you get a full salary of around £14,000-£16,000 for the placement.

    I honestly believe that being taught in person, having that extra support & the experience of working within a team are invaluable when considering a business related degree.

    The OU certainly stands in high regard with employers but, unfortunately, looking at graduate jobs; many specify that you should have a minimum 2:1 degree from a top university.
    If you were to study with the OU & graduate with a 1st degree then applied for a job that was also applied for by someone who studied at, for example, UCL, Bath or similar but only gained a 2:1 then the likelihood is that this other person would be hired. Prestige is a big factor. It shouldn't be IMO, but it seems to be the way it works

    Sorry if I've confused things any further, I just wanted to explain the options

    Good luck with whatever you decide anyway
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    (Original post by sweetiepie82)
    If you were to study with the OU & graduate with a 1st degree then applied for a job that was also applied for by someone who studied at, for example, UCL, Bath or similar but only gained a 2:1 then the likelihood is that this other person would be hired. Prestige is a big factor. It shouldn't be IMO, but it seems to be the way it works
    I know what you're saying but it's likely that an OU business graduate will be quite a bit older than say a 21/22 year old UCL business graduate and that difference in life experience is properly taken into account by many companies. We know this because recruiters from the likes of KPMG and Enterprise cars have said so on video on the OU website. Many institutions are familiar with the OU because they use it for professional training which is why the OU is the main provider of MBAs in the country.

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