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    Hello there. Im about to start my second year of study with the OU. I'm planning on doing two 60 credit modules, so "full time". I am also claiming Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefit.
    I was under the impression that OU courses always counted as part time for benefit purposes, no matter how many credits you were actually studying. (WIth the counterweight being that they also count as part time so no maintenance loans.) Anyway, I can't seem to find definite information on this.
    I'm sure it was very clear and easily googleable a couple of years ago. Now all I can find is other people asking the same question - people have even made FOI requests about it! So I'm thinking it may have changed and be deliberately obscured now - the latest ESA decision makers guide is very vague as if it's down to the discretion of the decision maker.
    Bit worried. Does anyone know?
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    Sorry cannot really specifically answer your question but I do know that even if you study 120 credits (full time) then you still apply for a part time student loan.
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    (Original post by Lil_Missy)
    Sorry cannot really specifically answer your question but I do know that even if you study 120 credits (full time) then you still apply for a part time student loan.
    There's no part time student loan. Only a tuition fee loan.
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    (Original post by Tiger Rag)
    There's no part time student loan. Only a tuition fee loan.
    The OU tells you to apply for a part time Tuition fee loan

    The following module requires a 2016/2017 Part-time Tuition Fee Loan:
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    You could ask the OUSA VP Student Support whether she knows - I will PM you get contact details.
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    Thanks Persipan - I'll report back if I get a definite answer. Though I have a feeling it's going to be a "case by case" basis and involve asking the DWP and them asking lots of questions about ESA entitlement if I'm able to study at this intensity... eek can of worms! (I find studying this way so, so much easier than paid employment. Although I hope to start working part time once this academic year is over.)
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    I had such issues trying to convince the job centre that I could study, this was part time, but not work. So much so that I ended up finding a part time job which paid more than the ESA anyway. This was about 6 years ago, and things have changed since then, but they will quite possibly see it as; if you can study full time, then why can't you at least work part time rather than be supported by ESA. Good luck though...
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    Well they say honesty is the best policy but personally I just wouldn't tell them, you are opening a can of worms.

    You say you are claiming ESA, so presumably too sick / disabled to work.... now I would say that any reasonable person can see that studying part-time from home when you have the energy is very different from being fit for work, however the DWP are not reasonable! The first thing they will do is look for reasons why this conflicts with your ESA claim and argue "well if you can study you can work".
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    Ok...

    The answer from the OU is that 120 credits is full-time equivalent study, but does not make you a full-time student. Including with relation to the DWP/benefits. They seemd very confident about this; apparently it comes up fairly often.

    However you are supposed to notify the DWP of part-time study.
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    ...And you need to send something from the OU to the DWP as "proof" of hours/course - the advisor at the OU knew what I was asking for (even though I didn't!) and they will email the appropriate document to me.

    It's a bit nerve-wracking as the course will start before the DWP have given the final word but OU seem to think it's fine.

    In case this is useful to anyone in future it has occurred to me that if the DWP do unexpectedly decide to class me as a full-time student and thus stop benefits, I can drop out of the course (*provided I pick up the same course next year this is basiclly ok - see OU website for further details) and make a "rapid reclaim" for ESA, thereby only loosing a couple of weeks' (hopefully) benefits.

    Either way it's blatently going to provoke a re-assessment which is always scary. So frustrating that trying to improve my life and chances in any way seems complicated by the benefits system!
 
 
 
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