Is a degree from OU respected?

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Anonymous #1
#1
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In your opinion? Do you think their courses are as rigorous and high quality as some normal universities? Do you think their flexible entry requirements means that you view an OU degree as of lesser value?
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GabiAbi84
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#2
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Yes, yes and no.
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Jonathanツ
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#3
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#3
Someone answered this question brilliantly in an unrelated form earlier this week

I'll try to find it

Edit: I can't be bothered to find it
The general statement was that most universities these days don't give a **** about the university you went to, just what you learned. And that the OU often links its courses with other prestigious Russel Group uni's like York so yeahh...
For the life of me, I cannot remember who said it
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tudor_777
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#4
When the OU was first established it knew it needed to impose extremely rigorous academic standards in order to avoid the criticism that their degrees were somehow less 'credible' than the traditional route. It is one of the reasons that they impose such high standards for their grades, ie 70% for a 2:1 and 85% for a first, although they do retain some element of flexibility in how these are applied (I achieved a first with only 83% in land law for example). A fact that a lot of RG graduates won't like is that the OU is just as academically rigorous, if not more so than the majority of RG universities. Another one is the level of competition is often higher too (despite the 'cope' that often gets touted on these forums that it is just for drop outs, second chancers and pensioners). The OU has a long established and highly respected employer sponsorship programme and on many of my law modules there were many RG graduates (often found on the contract, trusts and land law modules) and most really struggled with the work. Many actually failed and had to take re-sits with their marks capped at 40%. This sponsorship programme is utilised by 75% of the top 100 FTSE companies, which speaks enormous volumes about its credibility with employers.

You reference the low entry requirements for the courses in your post. However, what often gets missed is that an OU degree incorporates an access course at level 1 which is the equivalent of the usual three A levels requirement, similar to access courses offered at many, many 'standard' universities. The OU is notoriously difficult and is highly respected by employers. It is the largest university in Europe and undertakes world class research too. I would certainly put it ahead of the lower ranked RG Uni's in terms of its overall reputation (with employers, if not lay people). I'm surprised that its reputation even gets questioned these days, although it is mostly undergrads on the student room forums that seem responsible for this; hardly surprising when they are constantly bombarded by marketing from traditional establishments.
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giella
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#5
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Let’s take two of their most popular courses: psychology and law.

Both are qualifying degrees. Psychology graduates need their degrees to meet the standards of the British Psychological Society in order to gain graduate bais for chartered status. The OU degree qualifies.

Their law degree is a qualifying law degree. End of discussion.

I’ve known several people achieve career success through the open university. I’ve known solicitors say they would bring any OU graduate to the top of the pile because they know that these people know how to work. I was taught by an OU graduate (UG+MSc+PhD all OU) for psychology and she was one of the best tutors I ever had. Doctorate selection committees don’t care where you got your degree in psychology.

They’re a research centre. They collaborate with other universities both internationally and within the UK. They turn out high standard research and are both publicly and privately funded.

They’ve been around for nearly 50 years (or more, I’m not sure) and are world leaders in distance learning education. They’re one of the the biggest universities in the UK in terms of student numbers. They’re accessible to all and they put a lot of effort into ensuring that every new starter has an opportunity to succeed, whatever their level. They’ve made massive contributions to social mobility and even today provide some of the most affordable degrees in the UK. Yet certain people on TSR seem to get a kick out of beating down on them.
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Nostromo504
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#6
The academics aren't bad, but I didn't think it was as good at brick uni. The OU actually discourages students from doing external research. In contrast, brick uni encourages students to read widely on different topics.
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tudor_777
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(Original post by Nostromo504)
The academics aren't bad, but I didn't think it was as good at brick uni. The OU actually discourages students from doing external research. In contrast, brick uni encourages students to read widely on different topics.
Actually, when you undertake the OU LLB Law degree you have access to a much wider collection of external legal databases than at a brick uni and you get full unfettered access to both Westlaw and LexisLibrary (most brick uni's usually only have one) and you still have full access to them for three whole years post graduation too (a subscription to just one database service costs several thousand a year).

You also have entire Units based on legal research using these external sources and distinctions are usually dependant upon being able to incorporate your own findings on the latest legal developments through external research of these databases or from the latest academic commentary.

In terms of academics, the OU is pretty much top tier (for law at least). As a member of several law groups I get to see posts from RG students wanting help with assignments and PSQ's (legal problem style questions) all the time (this very site has its own law study help sub forum) and they are very minimal in terms of academic requirements compared to OU and really only touch upon the surface, whereas OU law assignments require a much deeper level of understanding, particularly at level 3 but also, in the main, at level 2 as well.

I also have a family member who lectured at two RG universities and then tutored with the OU when disability made a regular job unfeasible; she felt the academic standards and marking boundaries at OU were much higher than most RG universities; almost to a point of being unfair on OU students.
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Nostromo504
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(Original post by tudor_777)
Actually, when you undertake the OU LLB Law degree you have access to a much wider collection of external legal databases than at a brick uni and you get full unfettered access to both Westlaw and LexisLibrary (most brick uni's usually only have one) and you still have full access to them for three whole years post graduation too (a subscription to just one database service costs several thousand a year).

You also have entire Units based on legal research using these external sources and distinctions are usually dependant upon being able to incorporate your own findings on the latest legal developments through external research of these databases or from the latest academic commentary.

In terms of academics, the OU is pretty much top tier (for law at least). As a member of several law groups I get to see posts from RG students wanting help with assignments and PSQ's (legal problem style questions) all the time (this very site has its own law study help sub forum) and they are very minimal in terms of academic requirements compared to OU and really only touch upon the surface, whereas OU law assignments require a much deeper level of understanding, particularly at level 3 but also, in the main, at level 2 as well.

I also have a family member who lectured at two RG universities and then tutored with the OU when disability made a regular job unfeasible; she felt the academic standards and marking boundaries at OU were much higher than most RG universities; almost to a point of being unfair on OU students.
To each their own. I'm at brick uni now. The amount of work required to pass a TMA is far greater than anything I experienced at the OU. In some cases, we're actually required to read a number of peer-reviewed journals and provide evidence of critical think if we can even hope for a passing score. Now that I'm at brick uni, I'm reading many high-quality research from respected academics in my field. This includes required work, and work that I'm encouraged to do on my own.
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Kyne
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#9
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#9
I’ve spoken with Säid Business school in Oxford and Imperial and they’re more than happy to accommodate applications for prospective postgraduates.

I think ou Is great in the sense that it can be used for people who flunked school but later in life want to give their career prospects another chance but don’t have the credits to go straight into a brick uni as an undergrad. At least this way you can do the undergrad course with ou then have the chance as a postgrad to go to a Traditional university.
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tudor_777
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(Original post by Nostromo504)
To each their own. I'm at brick uni now. The amount of work required to pass a TMA is far greater than anything I experienced at the OU. In some cases, we're actually required to read a number of peer-reviewed journals and provide evidence of critical think if we can even hope for a passing score. Now that I'm at brick uni, I'm reading many high-quality research from respected academics in my field. This includes required work, and work that I'm encouraged to do on my own.
To each their own? I'm not entirely sure that I understand; I am merely stating the facts as they stand. Also, literally all of those things are also required by the OU too, as stated in my post. I cannot speak for the course you may have studied with the OU in the past, only my own experience during my Law degree studying alongside Russell Group graduates who confirmed that the OU was much more academically rigorous.
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BECKY200000
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#11
Iv just completed a HND history at the OU and have got offers for Greenwich and Westminster to study my final BA year. So standards must be the same.
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super_hannah
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I currently study at the OU and I can personally say, the work is very demanding but I love it. The work is so interesting and there is so much support and extra learning materials etc etc. It's also very good for me because I have a long-term health condition. The OU is just a normal uni except it's online, but to whether a degree from the OU is more or less respected than other unis is very subjective, but to be fair at the end of the day, you still can earn the same degree as someone from another uni. It's even harder to get a first at the OU with grade boundaries for a first at 80%, whereas at standard unis it's 70%.
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Nostromo504
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(Original post by tudor_777)
To each their own? I'm not entirely sure that I understand; I am merely stating the facts as they stand. Also, literally all of those things are also required by the OU too, as stated in my post. I cannot speak for the course you may have studied with the OU in the past, only my own experience during my Law degree studying alongside Russell Group graduates who confirmed that the OU was much more academically rigorous.
My point is perhaps your experience is different. Good for you. At the OU, I was discouraged from any external reading outside of the module books. Others in different programmes have said the same thing. This is in sharp contrast to my brick uni experience.
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-Eirlys-
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(Original post by Nostromo504)
The academics aren't bad, but I didn't think it was as good at brick uni. The OU actually discourages students from doing external research. In contrast, brick uni encourages students to read widely on different topics.
This is true for the first couple of years, but you are still taught how to access and find information from different databases and how to be critical of evidence you find. Almost half of my current level 3 module assignments have requested external sources so it's definitely a part of the uni experience. It is simply more gradual because not everyone has a solid educational foundation to start the degree with, so they gradually get everyone to the same level.
(Original post by Anonymous)
In your opinion? Do you think their courses are as rigorous and high quality as some normal universities? Do you think their flexible entry requirements means that you view an OU degree as of lesser value?
Well I'm an OU student, so I'm of course going to be supportive of it. My degree is BPS accredited, meaning that it is recognised by the BPS and has been supported and checked by them, and found to be good enough. A lot of the OUs degrees are accredited. Our work is nearly always marked by someone who is a doctor in that field or has lived work experience or may even be working in that field still whilst tutoring on the side.

The OU actually provides a lot of material to other traditional universities, including the most prestigious ones. Not to mention their close relationship with the BBC and some of their documentaries are fronted by people who did their PhD with the OU.

There's always going to be criticism wherever you go, but there is a lot of support for OU students because they often balance studying with work or other commitments. It's a lot more impressive to employers for someone who got a degree when working full time and/or had a family to take care of yet still achieved a 2:1 over say 5 or 6 years (shows motivation, perseverance and time management skills), compared to a young graduate who had 3 years to dedicate to studying without those commitments.

Most people and employers who are knowledgeable of the OU will support it and find it to be just as good. It's been around for 50 years, which is saying something. Anyone who talks badly of it are either not knowledgeable of the OU or they're finding something to look down upon to make themselves feel better.
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tudor_777
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#15
(Original post by Nostromo504)
My point is perhaps your experience is different. Good for you. At the OU, I was discouraged from any external reading outside of the module books. Others in different programmes have said the same thing. This is in sharp contrast to my brick uni experience.
Fair enough, the only time I have ever heard of this is at level 1 study, which is basically an access course. Things are very different during the four years of level 2 and 3 three study that constitute the actual degree part of OU study.
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Nostromo504
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(Original post by -Eirlys-)
This is true for the first couple of years, but you are still taught how to access and find information from different databases and how to be critical of evidence you find. Almost half of my current level 3 module assignments have requested external sources so it's definitely a part of the uni experience. It is simply more gradual because not everyone has a solid educational foundation to start the degree with, so they gradually get everyone to the same level.

Well I'm an OU student, so I'm of course going to be supportive of it. My degree is BPS accredited, meaning that it is recognised by the BPS and has been supported and checked by them, and found to be good enough. A lot of the OUs degrees are accredited. Our work is nearly always marked by someone who is a doctor in that field or has lived work experience or may even be working in that field still whilst tutoring on the side.

The OU actually provides a lot of material to other traditional universities, including the most prestigious ones. Not to mention their close relationship with the BBC and some of their documentaries are fronted by people who did their PhD with the OU.

There's always going to be criticism wherever you go, but there is a lot of support for OU students because they often balance studying with work or other commitments. It's a lot more impressive to employers for someone who got a degree when working full time and/or had a family to take care of yet still achieved a 2:1 over say 5 or 6 years (shows motivation, perseverance and time management skills), compared to a young graduate who had 3 years to dedicate to studying without those commitments.

Most people and employers who are knowledgeable of the OU will support it and find it to be just as good. It's been around for 50 years, which is saying something. Anyone who talks badly of it are either not knowledgeable of the OU or they're finding something to look down upon to make themselves feel better.
I disagree with your last point. Many people talk badly about the OU. In fact, many people talk badly about every university. It doesn't mean they're not knowledgeable. Like any product, some consumers will like it and others won't. The education offered by the OU is no different. I think people should learn to accept criticism of the OU instead of being defensive.

I also disagree with your point about employers being more impressed with an OU degree. An OU degree is much easier academically than a brick uni degree. I know from personal experience. An OU degree is designed for PT study. Sure, you study while working, but you also only study an hour or two a day (if that much). Brick uni students often have to study much more. You can't assume that just because you're working, you have a harder challenge than a brick uni student. Brick uni students also have life obstacles to contend with. Perhaps they come from a broken home or have self-esteem issues or other challenges.
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giella
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(Original post by Nostromo504)
I disagree with your last point. Many people talk badly about the OU. In fact, many people talk badly about every university. It doesn't mean they're not knowledgeable. Like any product, some consumers will like it and others won't. The education offered by the OU is no different. I think people should learn to accept criticism of the OU instead of being defensive.

I also disagree with your point about employers being more impressed with an OU degree. An OU degree is much easier academically than a brick uni degree. I know from personal experience. Furthermore, brick uni students also have life obstacles to contend with. Perhaps they come from a broken home or have self-esteem issues or other challenging. Furthermore, an OU degree is designed for PT study. Sure, you study while working, but you also only study an hour or two a day (if that much). Brick uni students often have to study much more. You can't assume that just because you're working, you have a harder challenge than a brick uni student.
Disagree all you like but I've hearad employers speak for themselves on this issue and say they'd have nothing but time for an OU graduate. Maybe they don't all agree but where certain degrees are concerned, a qualifying degree is all that matters to employers, particularly in psychology and law where the real training is going to come later.

As a consumer, I'll be the first to admit you don't get the variety on a History or English degree with the OU. You just don't because that's not the product they're offering. They're selling an educational package that allow you to develop the generic skills that all graduates leave with and the knowledge required for their specific subject and they've developed ways for them to distribute that package on a mass scale, which no other university in the UK can really do (besides maybe places like the University of Law and BPP). And every course they offer allows its graduates to develop the skills required to meet the learning outcomes of a level 6 course in a particular subject. And that's actually what employers care about. OU graduates, however, can say that earning their degree stands as proof that they are self-motivated, able to manage their time, able to juggle different commitments almost automatically because they have to be. There's no gleaming inspiration of a brick or sandstone building, no schedule for them to follow, no arch for them to pass under for a graduation picture, not necessarily even any cushion of an academic background to fall back on. Just their hard work and commitment to completing. An OU graduate is often something quite special. The ones i've known have all been very inspiring people, often overcoming incredible personal adversity to earn a degree through the OU as the only route available to them given the hand that life dealt them. They've often had a steeper learning curve than a graduate of a bricks and mortar university. And that counts for a lot in employer's eyes.

Every university has its flaws. The OU is not exempt. But it's a university which I think gives us as much if not more to be proud of in this country than Oxford or Cambridge. I think it definitely helps more people access educational than either of those institutions has done in the past 50 years. I'd be proud to do a degree through the OU. I'd encourage my children to consider it. Ultimately, the OU is a university that still just about allows people to learn for fun and enjoyment. Not many places left in the country that can say that.
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Nostromo504
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#18
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(Original post by giella)
Disagree all you like but I've hearad employers speak for themselves on this issue and say they'd have nothing but time for an OU graduate. Maybe they don't all agree but where certain degrees are concerned, a qualifying degree is all that matters to employers, particularly in psychology and law where the real training is going to come later.

As a consumer, I'll be the first to admit you don't get the variety on a History or English degree with the OU. You just don't because that's not the product they're offering. They're selling an educational package that allow you to develop the generic skills that all graduates leave with and the knowledge required for their specific subject and they've developed ways for them to distribute that package on a mass scale, which no other university in the UK can really do (besides maybe places like the University of Law and BPP). And every course they offer allows its graduates to develop the skills required to meet the learning outcomes of a level 6 course in a particular subject. And that's actually what employers care about. OU graduates, however, can say that earning their degree stands as proof that they are self-motivated, able to manage their time, able to juggle different commitments almost automatically because they have to be. There's no gleaming inspiration of a brick or sandstone building, no schedule for them to follow, no arch for them to pass under for a graduation picture, not necessarily even any cushion of an academic background to fall back on. Just their hard work and commitment to completing. An OU graduate is often something quite special. The ones i've known have all been very inspiring people, often overcoming incredible personal adversity to earn a degree through the OU as the only route available to them given the hand that life dealt them. They've often had a steeper learning curve than a graduate of a bricks and mortar university. And that counts for a lot in employer's eyes.

Every university has its flaws. The OU is not exempt. But it's a university which I think gives us as much if not more to be proud of in this country than Oxford or Cambridge. I think it definitely helps more people access educational than either of those institutions has done in the past 50 years. I'd be proud to do a degree through the OU. I'd encourage my children to consider it. Ultimately, the OU is a university that still just about allows people to learn for fun and enjoyment. Not many places left in the country that can say that.
I've also heard employers speak on the matter. And many of them would never automatically prefer an OU degree over a brick uni degree, myself included. With all due respect, brick uni students also need time management skills, self-motivation and commitment. No-one forces brick uni students to go to class and put in the hard work to obtain a university degree. On top of that, the academics at the OU just don't compare. At the OU, I had around 75 pages of material to read per week for a full-time schedule. Remember, most OU students are only going PT, so their workload is even lighter. At brick uni, I generally have 500-600 pages of material to read per week on top of assignments. It's much more demanding. I wish you the best, but it's silly to somehow think an OU degree is more difficult to obtain.
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by Nostromo504)
I've also heard employers speak on the matter. And many of them would never automatically prefer an OU degree over a brick uni degree, myself included. With all due respect, brick uni students also need time management skills, self-motivation and commitment. No-one forces brick uni students to go to class and put in the hard work to obtain a university degree. On top of that, the academics at the OU just don't compare. At the OU, I had around 75 pages of material to read per week for a full-time schedule. Remember, most OU students are only going PT, so their workload is even lighter. At brick uni, I generally have 500-600 pages of material to read per week on top of assignments. It's much more demanding. I wish you the best, but it's silly to somehow think an OU degree is more difficult to obtain.
I'm pretty sure that for most people the OU is not easier. An OU student will certainly study fewer hours per year but they will also do more years. I took an MSc with the OU over the course of 5 years while working 40-50 hours per week running my own business. My first degree was far easier to achieve.

I'm just one more OU graduate adding their thoughts, proving nothing.
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giella
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#20
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#20
(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm pretty sure that for most people the OU is not easier. An OU student will certainly study fewer hours per year but they will also do more years. I took an MSc with the OU over the course of 5 years while working 40-50 hours per week running my own business. My first degree was far easier to achieve.

I'm just one more OU graduate adding their thoughts, proving nothing.
It’s also the case that the majority of OU students are coming to study from non-traditional backgrounds. Some may not have studied for many years, some may never have studied at all. The learning curve for an OU student is often far steeper than that of a traditional undergraduate.
One OU law graduate I know was a guy who started his degree while in spinal rehab after breaking his back. He fit in lectures and essays after 8 hour days of physio and OT. He had basically no academic credentials because he’d never needed them because he was a professional athlete. No way he could have got onto a traditional law course and no way he could have managed a traditional law course. He was able to turn his whole life around from complete devastation and employers noticed him and snapped him up.
No, not every OU graduate is that story but there are many like it. The OU is open when many other routes are closed and I love that our country has this. Not many other countries in the world have anything close to it and it would be a sad loss to education if we lose it. I just wish they could do something similar for schools in this country.
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