Why are pass marks higher at OU than at traditional universities? Watch

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yonz
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Hi

Im very interested in applying for the Bachelor of Engineering Honours degree at the Open University however I just have one question;

In relation to degree classification I was looking at this forum:
http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki...lassifications

Which states that at OU in order to get a 2:1 the pass rate must be between 70% and 85% and for a first class honours the pass rate must be over 85%.

Is this correct? and if so why are the rates different from traditional universities which require 70% for a first class. Surely gaining over 85% in your Honours is pretty much unheard off!

Is it easier to gain a higher percentage pass at the OU than at a traditional university?

My main reason for asking this is I would be reluctant to study at the OU, gain an overall pass mark of say 83% and only be awarded a 2:1. Or (a more much more likely scenario) gain a pass of 69% and only be awarded a 2:2 which would have a negative impact on career prospects. as I'm sure your all aware most graduate schemes require a minimum of a 2:1.

Sorry if this has been covered before but had I look and couldn't see anything relevant on the forum or on the OU website

Thanks
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lupinpooter
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This has been discussed before, you're right, but not for a while! The OU simply uses a different marking scale to that used in most conventional universities. So your assignment that would get a 70 at conventional uni would get 85 at the OU. The standard is the same. It's not that it's 'easier' to gain a higher percentage pass at the OU in the sense that they are more generous than their conventional uni counterparts. It's simply that the OU marking scheme uses the full range of 0-100.

Hope this sets your mind at rest!
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radiated yoghurt
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Cos they are piss easy at OU
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Theconomist
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This just proves that the Open university is not as accepted in the Job market and the higher education market as says.
And please the OU ++ brigade spare me your bullcrap.
When I see someone with an OU degree getting into a masters degree in Oxbridge or a top banking/law firm i'll change my mind.
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morecambebay
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(Original post by Theconomist)
This just proves that the Open university is not as accepted in the Job market and the higher education market as says.
And please the OU ++ brigade spare me your bullcrap.
When I see someone with an OU degree getting into a masters degree in Oxbridge or a top banking/law firm i'll change my mind.
Well, as it happens. There are a few people on here who went onto oxford for phds after doing OU undergratuate degrees.
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James Gregory
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From what I can tell, it's because the Open University courses take on a far wider range of applicants than traditional universities (from people who failed all their GCSEs, to people who already have a degree), and so they need to make use of the full spectrum of marks from 40% to 85% to produce any sort of meaningful distinction amongst the wide range of students. So yes, it is /relatively/ easy to obtain a higher percentage pass at the OU.

However, it is also worth bearing in mind that dividing universities into the sets
1. OU
2. all other universities
is unhelpful. Courses vary massively from university to university, some are far, far harder than others. Noone who knows a bit about the university system in the UK seriously claims that all degrees in a certain subject are equal and comparable across all institutions.
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James Gregory
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(Original post by Theconomist)
This just proves that the Open university is not as accepted in the Job market and the higher education market as says.
And please the OU ++ brigade spare me your bullcrap.
When I see someone with an OU degree getting into a masters degree in Oxbridge or a top banking/law firm i'll change my mind.
Movement of students between the OU and prestigious brick universities is not uncommon. Often people study at the OU because of personal reasons (e.g. family to bring up, money issues, age, etc), this doesn't preclude them from ever going into academia.

I wouldn't be surpised though if OU students do not go into things like investment banking and top law firms, in that (as I understand it) things like banking and law tend to have a very strong preference for only hiring people who fit their ideal model of what a university graduate looks like (early 20s, probably male, went to one of a very small set of universities, no gaps in CV, etc).
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lupinpooter
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(Original post by James Gregory)
Movement of students between the OU and prestigious brick universities is not uncommon. Often people study at the OU because of personal reasons (e.g. family to bring up, money issues, age, etc), this doesn't preclude them from ever going into academia.

I wouldn't be surpised though if OU students do not go into things like investment banking and top law firms, in that (as I understand it) things like banking and law tend to have a very strong preference for only hiring people who fit their ideal model of what a university graduate looks like (early 20s, probably male, went to one of a very small set of universities, no gaps in CV, etc).
I agree with your points James.

In reply to theconomist's post, like morecambebay I know of OU graduates who have gone on to postgraduate study at Oxbridge, the LSE and other prestigious universities. The banking/law employment issue is well explained by James G above.

I do wonder why people who clearly have no knowledge or experience of the OU bother to waste their Friday night trolling OU threads. Sad.
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Emor
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..
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yonz
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(Original post by lupinpooter)
This has been discussed before, you're right, but not for a while! The OU simply uses a different marking scale to that used in most conventional universities. So your assignment that would get a 70 at conventional uni would get 85 at the OU. The standard is the same. It's not that it's 'easier' to gain a higher percentage pass at the OU in the sense that they are more generous than their conventional uni counterparts. It's simply that the OU marking scheme uses the full range of 0-100.

Hope this sets your mind at rest!
Thanks for the quick reply, and yep this makes sense

Cheers,
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TheMathematician
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I have worked in Investment Banking for 10 years. Most of my colleagues either don't have a degree at all, have a degree in a completely unrelated subject or dropped out of Uni years ago.

I am now studying for a second degree with the Open University and I can honestly say that the standards are the same as those of my previous university (an old traditional university).

I do laugh when I see people with absolutely no common sense (this is what employers are looking for) who think they are going to take over the world because they have finished their 1st year at a bricks and mortar university. Very sad indeed...
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James Gregory
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Having got 3 rep pluses for my last post defending the OU, I shall now endeavour to balance it out with some things people don't want to hear:

(Original post by TheMathematician)
I have worked in Banking for 10 years. Most of my colleagues either don't have a degree at all, have a degree in a completely unrelated subject or dropped out of Uni years ago.
You may work for a bank, but you are not an investment banker or a derivatives trader on a 6 figure salary. Maybe you don't want to be - I for one certainly don't - but you'd find it pretty difficult to land such a role without a degree from a prestigious university. And sure, only a small proportion of those with a degree in Maths and Economics from LSE/Warwick/Oxbridge become a derivatives trader, but if they get a good mark and they're motivated, they sure are going to get a good job, and if they work hard they sure are going to be very rich.

(Not that money necessarily matters in life, it's just the subject matter is banks)

I am now studying for a second degree with the Open University and I can honestly say that the standards are the same as those of my previous university (an old traditional university).
Statistically, everyone doing maths at Cambridge is better than a straight A student at A-level (i.e., they have also done STEP papers etc). Meanwhile, to quote the Cambridge marking guidelines for maths:

"The Faculty Board recommends approximate percentages of candidates for each class: 30% firsts; 40-45% upper seconds; 20-25% lower seconds; and up to 10% thirds. These percentages should exclude candidates who did not take the examination."

So the Cambridge maths department only takes the very, very best students in the country, then it makes them work incredibly hard, and then it's own internal guidelines recommened only 30% of them be given 1sts.

I've just studied MST121 and MS221, which according to the OU is 1/6th of a maths degree. But the topics I've covered barely even cover all the ground of A-level Maths and Further Maths. I still thought it was worthwhile, and given my lack of a mathematics background I thought it was pleasantly challenging, and I am very tempted to continue my studies in the future.

What is it with people insisting on taking the extreme positions? Is the OU a pointless, easy, mickey-mouse route to a degree? No, it can be challenging, it can impress employers, you can learn lots of new things. Is it equivalent, either in terms of difficulty or in terms of value, to every other degree from every other university? No.
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TheMathematician
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Read my post again. I do work in Investment Banking. I have a degree in French.
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James Gregory
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(Original post by TheMathematician)
Read my post again. I do work in Investment Banking. I have a degree in French.
You edited your post, though regardless it does seem I made a false assumption.

Anyway, I stand by what I said. There is a very strong correlation between people getting degrees from prestigious universities, and people getting well paid, prestigious jobs.
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street.lovin'
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(Original post by TheMathematician)
Read my post again. I do work in Investment Banking. I have a degree in French.
I think James G. understood tha tyou work in Investment Banking, he was just wondering if you are an Investment Banker. Working in Investment Banking doesn't necessarily mean you are an Investment Banker, does it?

I am not going against, I am just saying what James G. was asking you. He knew you work in there, but what position?

I am an OU student - however, I am doing it as a part of my YASS programmes. Therefore, I probably know very little about it as my experience is not a lot.

I find that the OU course is interesting, however, it's just not intensive. Most assignments I have been doing are tested on the course materials so you just need your own knowledge and what you have learned when doing it. It's like this for every degree I know, but then I find this very easy.

Studying with OU will mean there are not many variety of assessment methods - for my course it's either computer marked assignment or written assignment. For a course like business or politics or something like that it is going to be hard as I think presentations and face to face assessments are quite essensial.

It is probably good for courses like English, Philosophy/Ethics (What i am doing) or all the arts and humanities subjects, I think. However, I am doing Ethics mysel, I still find that the course material provided sometimes can be rather biased and the overall contents are kind of superficial. But then, it's the subject whcih you have to have to own knowledge and you need to be able to come up with counter argument and balance them all out.

So yeah, OU is fun and great place - only suitable for some subjects not for subjects like Architecture or Business or Law though. :P
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street.lovin'
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(Original post by TheMathematician)
Sales.
Ok.
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lupinpooter
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(Original post by James Gregory)
What is it with people insisting on taking the extreme positions? Is the OU a pointless, easy, mickey-mouse route to a degree? No, it can be challenging, it can impress employers, you can learn lots of new things. Is it equivalent, either in terms of difficulty or in terms of value, to every other degree from every other university? No.
I just want to clarify that in my original response to the OP I did not mean to imply that an OU degree is equivalent in difficulty and/or value to every degree from every other university. I was only making the point that the difference between OU and conventional university grade boundaries is simply down to their using the full 0-100 scale rather than there being some qualitative difference in the material or difficulty of the assignments beyond the normal differences you find between one degree programme and another. In theory at least, an 85 from the OU should reflect the same or a similar standard of work as a 70 from another university. We all know that in reality some degree programmes are more challenging than others, even if they are accredited as equivalent. I hope that makes my position clear and that your frustration with "people taking extreme positions" wasn't aimed at me, because in general I agree with the points you've made.
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TheMathematician
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I think that could be aimed at me (amongst othe people maybe?). I just said that, the amount of time and effort I spent on my first degree was equivalent to what I am doing with the OU (excluding level 1 and openings courses that is...).

If the OU was not comparable to SOME (did I say SOME?) other universities, then OU graduates would not be accepted into postgraduate courses at some of the country's top universities... but they are!

NOBODY in this forum said a OU degree has the same academic standard as a degree from Oxbridge.

Last post... too much time and effort to defend a perfectly reasonable position in this forum.
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AmyC85
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Hey

I've just ben reading though the posts on this thread and am now confused. I understand that a first from oxbridge is very prestigous but how is it any different to a first from any other university? Surely you need to get the same marks, whichever universty you go to, to get a first, so why does it matter which university you go to? As long as you do the course you want, at a university thats right for you why should it matter if a degree is from Oxbridge or the OU? Or am I just being nieve?
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lupinpooter
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(Original post by AmyC85)
Hey

I've just ben reading though the posts on this thread and am now confused. I understand that a first from oxbridge is very prestigous but how is it any different to a first from any other university? Surely you need to get the same marks, whichever universty you go to, to get a first, so why does it matter which university you go to? As long as you do the course you want, at a university thats right for you why should it matter if a degree is from Oxbridge or the OU? Or am I just being nieve?
It's complicated isn't it, and it depends on what you want to do with your degree and who is making a value judgement about it. The problem I see on here so often is that there is a perception that because the OU is by definition 'open to all regardless of prior academic achievement or lack thereof', this means that the OU's degrees are worthless. What these people fail to take into account is that, just because there's an open door policy, it does not follow that everyone who steps through that door will achieve a degree. Nor does it follow that, because the door is open, the standards required of students are low (to enable the rabble who can't get through the doors of conventional universities to get degrees). It's an annoying mistake but thankfully not one that people who know what they're talking about make

But James' point is right: there are certain types of employment and certain employers who are only interested in candidates who have followed a particular, very narrowly defined path. Students from 'lesser' universities and/or those who have taken a less conventional path through life and the education system are unlikely to be considered by such employers and you'd have to be deluded to think that there is a level playing field in operation there.

I think he's also right that, despite the fact that degrees are accredited by a central body and therefore are supposed to adhere to the same standards, some degree programmes within the same field are more thorough or more challenging than others. The accreditation criteria are met by all degree programmes, but I suspect (I can't speak from experience here) some institutions go above and beyond those basic standards, i.e. their expectations of students are higher.

[edited to add:] Of course, there's nothing to stop a person from applying those high standards to themselves and many do.
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