What's with all the negative reviews?

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Anonymous #1
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I'm reading reviews (these are by students, not league tables) for the Open University, and they stand out as considerably more negative than almost all other universities. For reference, on one site (whatuni) they score a 3/5 when the average is around 4/5.

Many of the negative reviews complain that the university "ditches" the students after registration, and feel that they don't get enough support and hence the course is too difficult. This could be true but perhaps it's not the course that's difficult but the students that are struggling? This would make sense given that the entry requirements are lower.

I'm considering the OU but these remarks are worrying. I know all experiences will be slightly different but I don't want to risk going with a university where neglect is common.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm reading reviews (these are by students, not league tables) for the Open University, and they stand out as considerably more negative than almost all other universities. For reference, on one site (whatuni) they score a 3/5 when the average is around 4/5.

Many of the negative reviews complain that the university "ditches" the students after registration, and feel that they don't get enough support and hence the course is too difficult. This could be true but perhaps it's not the course that's difficult but the students that are struggling? This would make sense given that the entry requirements are lower.

I'm considering the OU but these remarks are worrying. I know all experiences will be slightly different but I don't want to risk going with a university where neglect is common.
I think a lot of the negativity surround tutorial support, or rather the lack of it. It's a bit of a lucky dip whether you get decent academic support or not.

I'm going to tag in Snufkín here who's very knowledgeable about the OU and could maybe offer his perspective on it.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Reality Check)
It's a bit of a lucky dip whether you get decent academic
Yeah this is what I assumed. Some people said that even within the same course, support varied quite a lot. Some professors respond quickly and give guidance, others take two weeks and send you a one line email. I know this happens in brick unis as well but it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue.
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Yeah this is what I assumed. Some people said that even within the same course, support varied quite a lot. Some professors respond quickly and give guidance, others take two weeks and send you a one line email. I know this happens in brick unis as well but it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue.
Yes, exactly. My hunch is that you're right and it happens less at a 'physical' university, mainly because you see people face to face so much and thus it's much less easy to 'ignore' someone. You can also 'pop' into someone's room at a physical university, which you can't of course with the OU.

I feel the OU is good for people considering a second degree, and maybe mature 'leisure' learners, but it's not somewhere I'd recommend for a standard-age or even slightly mature student.
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artful_lounger
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I have to say for the two modules I've done with the OU, I've had no issues with support - in fact I've had better support (both academic and non-academic) with the OU than either of the brick unis I studied at...however after my experiences at said brick unis, my expectations were very low to begin with, so perhaps not so unusual that the OU exceeded them significantly

I wonder how much it might be due to people having to manage their expectations of what to expect from uni level study generally, which is broadly more independent than school learning which most will be more familiar with. They may be expecting a lot more individual attention and support, which is just not feasible if a module has e.g. 500 students on it...this is true at brick unis as well, but maybe becomes more quickly apparent that isn't the case.
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I have to say for the two modules I've done with the OU, I've had no issues with support - in fact I've had better support (both academic and non-academic) with the OU than either of the brick unis I studied at...however after my experiences at said brick unis, my expectations were very low to begin with, so perhaps not so unusual that the OU exceeded them significantly

I wonder how much it might be due to people having to manage their expectations of what to expect from uni level study generally, which is broadly more independent than school learning which most will be more familiar with. They may be expecting a lot more individual attention and support, which is just not feasible if a module has e.g. 500 students on it...this is true at brick unis as well, but maybe becomes more quickly apparent that isn't the case.
Sorry AL - I forgot you'd done some OU stuff, and were the ideal person to tag
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Sorry AL - I forgot you'd done some OU stuff, and were the ideal person to tag
It was rather serendipitous since I was just browsing TSR while waiting for a tutorial to start now anyway and saw this thread

I think people often complain about response times etc, in brick unis as well, but perhaps since you're in a cohort of people experiencing it, this tends to resolve itself more as commiseration with one's peers, rather than formally complaining about it on the internet - whereas with the OU it may feel a bit more like you're in it by yourself. Also unlike the OU, brick unis don't tend to publish module feedback on the public internet (the transparency also comes at a price).

Some universities do tend to have more negative reviews of this than others - UCL seems to have a lot of students coming on here to complain about it, particularly in the engineering department for example (I won't speculate on why this might be ).
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
It was rather serendipitous since I was just browsing TSR while waiting for a tutorial to start now anyway and saw this thread

I think people often complain about response times etc, in brick unis as well, but perhaps since you're in a cohort of people experiencing it, this tends to resolve itself more as commiseration with one's peers, rather than formally complaining about it on the internet - whereas with the OU it may feel a bit more like you're in it by yourself. Also unlike the OU, brick unis don't tend to publish module feedback on the public internet (the transparency also comes at a price).

Some universities do tend to have more negative reviews of this than others - UCL seems to have a lot of students coming on here to complain about it, particularly in the engineering department for example (I won't speculate on why this might be ).
I think that's a very accurate analysis - the OU is disadvantaged by its own transparency. I've also noticed this UCL thing - of all the London colleges, it seems by far the most complained about, and I rarely see such bad feeling towards Imperial or Kings for instance.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I wonder how much it might be due to people having to manage their expectations of what to expect from uni level study generally, which is broadly more independent than school learning which most will be more familiar with.
(Original post by artful_lounger)
I think people often complain about response times etc, in brick unis as well, but perhaps since you're in a cohort of people experiencing it, this tends to resolve itself more as commiseration with one's peers
These are fair justifications, I think, and it's slightly reassuring that the OU's low ratings could be simply the result of their idiosyncratic structure and intake.

The OU, however, doesn't give any indication (for obvious reasons) that support and one-to-one feedback might be more limited than traditional universities due to the class sizes. If people are paying almost the same as a standard degree why can't the university, which already saves tons of money by being distance-learning, afford more staff?
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username5252878
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm reading reviews (these are by students, not league tables) for the Open University, and they stand out as considerably more negative than almost all other universities. For reference, on one site (whatuni) they score a 3/5 when the average is around 4/5.

Many of the negative reviews complain that the university "ditches" the students after registration, and feel that they don't get enough support and hence the course is too difficult. This could be true but perhaps it's not the course that's difficult but the students that are struggling? This would make sense given that the entry requirements are lower.

I'm considering the OU but these remarks are worrying. I know all experiences will be slightly different but I don't want to risk going with a university where neglect is common.
I too am considering OU to study with however became very overwhelmed with their reviews. Yes they can be quite slack when it comes to students however so far, any queries I have had in relation to my chosen course I’ve been assisted greatly by. It’s hard as you’re not face to face like brick unis but they do their utmost best to assist you and your course.

Every uni has their pros and cons. That’s why theirs a fierce competition as to which uni to attend and ultimately get the best education. Even so, mistakes will occur and essentially we all learn on the job.

As far as I can tell though, OU tops the brick unis I’ve attended. I’ve been ditched by a brick uni hence why I dropped out because they’re wasn’t that support and everything got too much.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Thecrazydoughnut)
I too am considering OU to study with however became very overwhelmed with their reviews. Yes they can be quite slack when it comes to students however so far, any queries I have had in relation to my chosen course I’ve been assisted greatly by. It’s hard as you’re not face to face like brick unis but they do their utmost best to assist you and your course.

Every uni has their pros and cons. That’s why theirs a fierce competition as to which uni to attend and ultimately get the best education. Even so, mistakes will occur and essentially we all learn on the job.

As far as I can tell though, OU tops the brick unis I’ve attended. I’ve been ditched by a brick uni hence why I dropped out because they’re wasn’t that support and everything got too much.
I've contacted them and found the same - they answered my questions quickly and in detail, but the thing I'm concerned about here is support from teachers, not the sales team. I'm still hoping to apply to the OU but I just need some doubts cleared.
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Anonymous #2
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The OU is the UK's largest university in terms of student enrolment (or at least the top 3, I can't remember), if you add this to the fact that most people only leave reviews if they have a bad experience, then it would make sense that the OU has a lot of bad reviews lol. Also, the OU is so, so different from traditional universities that it is going to be strange and bizarre and not live up to people's expectations so a lot of people are going to dislike it. I think also that because the OU is an online university, many people post bad reviews online, rather than speaking to someone in person like they would at a brick university. That's my untrained psychological explanation anyway, lol ;-)

I found the OU tutors and student support to be amazing, and 99% of other students on my modules had the same positive experiences as I did. On one occasion, my friend disliked their tutor for a number of reasons, and was able to change tutors within 2 weeks of letting student services know, so I think that's great too.
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Adadses
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm reading reviews (these are by students, not league tables) for the Open University, and they stand out as considerably more negative than almost all other universities. For reference, on one site (whatuni) they score a 3/5 when the average is around 4/5.

Many of the negative reviews complain that the university "ditches" the students after registration, and feel that they don't get enough support and hence the course is too difficult. This could be true but perhaps it's not the course that's difficult but the students that are struggling? This would make sense given that the entry requirements are lower.

I'm considering the OU but these remarks are worrying. I know all experiences will be slightly different but I don't want to risk going with a university where neglect is common.
In my experience as a first year student my German tutor is only an email or phonecall away - she gets back to me within 48 hours at least. She is very supportive and will give answers when I need them. She is very positive and helps pick me up when I feel lost.

I started an IT module and due to strikes I was unable to get feed back from the tutor. I complained and was contacted very quickly by her manager. The problem was resolved and the tutor contacted me from then on.

In regards to being forgotten about I would say that the onus is on you to study and attend lectures. No one is forcing you to do so. You need to be motivated and there are plenty of lectures to attend, Facebook and Watts App groups to join. Be careful though because my IT group were very negative towards people who needed help but the German one is so very friendly. Be prepared for IT people to share grades! My German group set up their own results sharing group.

I would say I have lots of support and have never struggled to get an answer to a question - that's my opinion and experience mind you!
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