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    Hi everyone,

    I'm Jamie, I'm 22 years old, and I'm from Watford. I've applied to do a Languages Degree with the Open University, I've chosen to do English and Spanish. The whole process is done; I've enrolled onto the modules and I've applied for the tuition fee loan, which has been approved, I'm just waiting for the declaration form to come through which I need to sign and return.

    I applied for the Open University as I have no qualifications, except a level 2 National Certificate in Animal Care, and an A-Level in Dance. I work at the moment, so I thought it'd be a good idea to pick a course that interests me with the OU.

    Anyway, out of interest, I phoned up Falmouth Marine School today, as doing a degree and achieving a career in Marine Biology has always been a passion of mine, I just haven't pursued it sooner as I thought that avenue was finished for me as I only have two qualifications. The guy on the phone advised that I apply for the level 3 course, and to go down for an interview to discuss my best options, whether it be a level 3 or level 2 course. He took my details and I applied to do the level 3 course at the Falmouth Marine School. I just have a few questions:

    1.) Is it worth me travelling all the way to Falmouth to discuss doing a level 3 or level 2 course? I mean, surely doing a level 2/3 course wouldn't include fees such as accommodation? Would the tuition fees even be included? I can only do this through bursaries/loans if possible, unfortunately I can't afford to pay myself. I just don't want to travel down there if it's not worth it.

    2.) Will the fact that I've applied to do a course at Falmouth Marine School have any effect on my OU course/Tuition Fee Loan?

    In an ideal world, I would follow my passion and work towards a career in Marine Biology/sea life conservation, but I guess I have to be realistic and I suppose it won't be possible to go down to Falmouth to study from level 2/3 upwards, what with having limited funds.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Jamie
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    Hey - why have you enrolled on a languages degree if you want to do Biology?

    I've just finished a CertHE Humanities (with French) at the OU and in my opinion languages are something the OU doesn't do very well. The teaching resources are good and the tutors are helpful, but the lack of speaking and listening practice can cause a lot of problems - plus there's no year abroad!

    (Original post by Jamie G)
    1.) Is it worth me travelling all the way to Falmouth to discuss doing a level 3 or level 2 course? I mean, surely doing a level 2/3 course wouldn't include fees such as accommodation? Would the tuition fees even be included? I can only do this through bursaries/loans if possible, unfortunately I can't afford to pay myself. I just don't want to travel down there if it's not worth it.
    No, it isn't worth it. If you're under 23 then the course would be free but you'd have to pay for accommodation and food yourself, you wouldn't be entitled to any loans because it isn't a degree. You can do a level 3 course in Watford which would be enough to get you onto a Marine Biology degree (or any degree) if that's what you want. West Herts College and Oaklands College both do Science Access courses - these are level 3 courses which are specially designed to help people without A levels to go to university.

    Some universities accept Open University credits instead of A levels (120 credits at level 1 is what they usually ask for), which is a Certificate of Higher Education - click here to see the list. This is the route into university that I took - it takes a bit longer but you can get a student loan to cover the course fees. If you want to do a degree in Marine Biology and you don't want to go to college then the OU could work for you.

    (Original post by Jamie G)
    2.) Will the fact that I've applied to do a course at Falmouth Marine School have any effect on my OU course/Tuition Fee Loan?
    Nop.
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    Hey Samuel, thanks very much for your informative reply, it's much appreciated. I've chosen Languages as that degree has always interested me too, and I already have a basic understanding of Spanish, whereas I thought that if I did anything science based with the OU, I might struggle as I haven't practiced anything like maths for years, I'm worried that I might find it difficult.

    I see what you're saying about the speaking practice, but maybe doing language exchanges on Skype could help out with that?

    Very interesting about the access course at West Herts, would I have to pay for that? I would need to sort out work, because that's on Mondays, and currently I work on Mondays. Also, would the access course alone be enough, because I emailed a few universities, and they stated that I would need the access course in science and GCSE (or equivalent) level in maths. None of them stated that I could use OU credits to be accepted.

    To be fair, if I could study with the OU, I would do, as long as the credits could lead to doing a degree in Marine Biology. The OU don't offer a Marine Biology degree, only a Natural Sciences degree, but I'm guessing that won't be as good as attaining a proper degree in Marine Biology.

    Oh it's all so confusing, what with so many options! I received my loan declaration form through the post today for the Language Studies Degree with the OU, which it says I must sign and send back immediately, so is it too late to change things now anyway?
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    (Original post by Jamie G)
    Hey Samuel, thanks very much for your informative reply, it's much appreciated. I've chosen Languages as that degree has always interested me too, and I already have a basic understanding of Spanish, whereas I thought that if I did anything science based with the OU, I might struggle as I haven't practiced anything like maths for years, I'm worried that I might find it difficult.

    I see what you're saying about the speaking practice, but maybe doing language exchanges on Skype could help out with that?

    Very interesting about the access course at West Herts, would I have to pay for that? I would need to sort out work, because that's on Mondays, and currently I work on Mondays. Also, would the access course alone be enough, because I emailed a few universities, and they stated that I would need the access course in science and GCSE (or equivalent) level in maths. None of them stated that I could use OU credits to be accepted.

    To be fair, if I could study with the OU, I would do, as long as the credits could lead to doing a degree in Marine Biology. The OU don't offer a Marine Biology degree, only a Natural Sciences degree, but I'm guessing that won't be as good as attaining a proper degree in Marine Biology.

    Oh it's all so confusing, what with so many options! I received my loan declaration form through the post today for the Language Studies Degree with the OU, which it says I must sign and send back immediately, so is it too late to change things now anyway?

    It's always worth calling each university to discuss whether they would accept OU credits, they don't always list non-standard qualifications on the website and they probably wouldn't tell you whether they would accept the OU credits unless you asked :-)

    At age 22, I believe that whether or not you would have to pay for the access course depends on whether you already have a qualification at level 3. I would definitely contact the college to find out more.

    If you're not sure about the Language Studies degree with the OU then my personal opinion would be to wait and really think about what you want to do before you commit to anything. You have plenty of time to make sure that you choose the right path!

    Good Luck!
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    (Original post by Jamie G)
    Hey Samuel, thanks very much for your informative reply, it's much appreciated. I've chosen Languages as that degree has always interested me too, and I already have a basic understanding of Spanish, whereas I thought that if I did anything science based with the OU, I might struggle as I haven't practiced anything like maths for years, I'm worried that I might find it difficult.

    I see what you're saying about the speaking practice, but maybe doing language exchanges on Skype could help out with that?

    Very interesting about the access course at West Herts, would I have to pay for that? I would need to sort out work, because that's on Mondays, and currently I work on Mondays. Also, would the access course alone be enough, because I emailed a few universities, and they stated that I would need the access course in science and GCSE (or equivalent) level in maths. None of them stated that I could use OU credits to be accepted.

    To be fair, if I could study with the OU, I would do, as long as the credits could lead to doing a degree in Marine Biology. The OU don't offer a Marine Biology degree, only a Natural Sciences degree, but I'm guessing that won't be as good as attaining a proper degree in Marine Biology.

    Oh it's all so confusing, what with so many options! I received my loan declaration form through the post today for the Language Studies Degree with the OU, which it says I must sign and send back immediately, so is it too late to change things now anyway?
    You have a few weeks to think about it, when I took out a loan I think I had until the end of August to send the form back.

    You don't have to pay for an access course if you're 23 or under as long as you don't have a level 3 qualification (2 A levels or more). If you decide do an access course in a few years, you can get a 24+ loan to pay for it - you only pay back the loan if you don't go to university, if you do then it is wiped.

    I'm not surprised that the universities you spoke to didn't tell you about OU credits, but if you ask them whether or not they accept OU credits for entry, many will say yes. The Natural Sciences course is your best option if you want to use OU credits to study Marine Biology. Universities which offer Marine Biology won't expect people to have studied it before but they will expect you to have a solid grounding in biology and science in general, natural sciences offers this. If you did a full degree with the OU then in the second and third years of Natural Sciences you can specialise in Biology.

    Whatever route you take, if you want to go to a physical university then you will need GCSE English and Maths at grade C. You can study these yourself at home (I did), it takes a lot of effort and self-determination but it is possible - or you can try and find a college which offers them (West Herts doesn't but I think Oaklands does).

    I think you should phone all the universities you're interested in and ask them whether they accept OU credits for entry, and if they do, which modules would they recommend? You will almost certainly be expected to do Exploring science but if they don't require all 120 credits to be in Science, you could do 1 language module.
 
 
 
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