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Student at the Open University
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What exactly is the open university?

After a levels is it good to do open uni instead of going to a regular uni? Like what exactly are the pros and cons. And are the courses more cheaper?
An online only university where everything is distance learning. Think regular university during the pandemic. Everything is online. Your university experience would be sitting at a computer for three years with no face to face interaction with anybody in regard to university. It's ok for some, terrible for others you also don't get the same Student Finance for Open University study, at least not to the same level as brick and mortar students because distance learners don't qualify for most of it, you would get a part time tuition fee loan, but that's it.
Student at the Open University
Open University
Milton Keynes
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Reply 2
Original post by Master0fReality
An online only university where everything is distance learning. Think regular university during the pandemic. Everything is online. Your university experience would be sitting at a computer for three years with no face to face interaction with anybody in regard to university. It's ok for some, terrible for others you also don't get the same Student Finance for Open University study, at least not to the same level as brick and mortar students because distance learners don't qualify for most of it, you would get a part time tuition fee loan, but that's it.

Ah alright ty
I did a psychology degree with the OU and yes it was distance learning but there were also face to face elements such as summer schools and monthly tutorials.
It used to be a much cheaper way of getting a degree but that all changed a while back when the OU started to charge standard tuition fees though on a pay as you go basis (module by module).
The OU has always been a distance learning institution and so is pretty expert at this mode of delivery. The course materials are typically of a very high standard. One downside of the distance learning approach is that you don't have the same level of access to your tutors - everything is done by email or phone.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 4
Original post by cheadle
I did a psychology degree with the OU and yes it was distance learning but there were also face to face elements such as summer schools and monthly tutorials.
It used to be a much cheaper way of getting a degree but that all changed a while back when the OU started to charge standard tuition fees though on a pay as you go basis (module by module).
The OU has always been a distance learning institution and so is pretty expert at this mode of delivery. The course materials are typically of a very high standard. One downside of the distance learning approach is that you don't have the same level of access to your tutors - everything is done by email or phone.


Thanks for your comment. Did you like doing a course with OU? I think it would suit me doing a course with OU as I don't need to worry about accommodation/transport fees. But I'm a bit worried about the social aspect. Did you like not having as much social interaction as a regular uni?
If you want the "uni experience" then it's probably not going to fit your expectations. If you don't really care about that and just want/need a degree, ideally with flexibility in when you work on your studies and how many credits a year you do to fit around other commitments (work, family/caring, etc), then it's a decent option.

You can't get a maintenance loan when studying at the OU, but you can get tuition fee loans for the whole course (and the tuition fee costs of doing a full 120 credits at the OU at least was less than a year of full time uni). That said I wouldn't recommend choosing it on that basis - student loan "debt" isn't really real debt in any way, and is quite different from other kinds of debt, and isn't something you should worry about basically. If you are concerned about the nature of student finance "debt", I would recommend reading through this guidance from them first: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8-things-you-should-know-about-your-student-loan--2

It explains a lot about what a student loan is and isn't, and confirms that basically, it's unlikely to have any measurable effect on your day to day life (unless you go out of your way to evade repayments/commit fraud in reporting your income as a self-employed worker) and will probably get a large chunk of it written off 40 years after you take it out.
Original post by _Robyn_
Thanks for your comment. Did you like doing a course with OU? I think it would suit me doing a course with OU as I don't need to worry about accommodation/transport fees. But I'm a bit worried about the social aspect. Did you like not having as much social interaction as a regular uni?


I had already had the traditional university experience some years previous so that was less of an issue for me. I was working part-time and was looking to improve my qualifications and the OU route seemed the best option. I really enjoyed the course and I got everything I wanted out of it. There's no doubt the social aspect was lacking but, as a someone who was also working, I didn't have the time or inclination for socialising. That said, I made some good friends with others who were doing the course in the area where I live, we met at the monthly tutorials, attended the summer schools together, and also used to met up for monthly study support "lunches".
Reply 7
Original post by _Robyn_
After a levels is it good to do open uni instead of going to a regular uni? Like what exactly are the pros and cons. And are the courses more cheaper?

You shouldn't study an OU course after A-levels as a replacement for a traditional university experience, no.
More generally, anyone for whom attending a physical university full-time is a realistic option should do that.

The OU is better suited for people who need to work, lack traditional entrance qualifications, or for some other reason find it impractical to study in the normal way. It's invaluable for those people, but an 18 year old absolutely should not do an online degree.
Reply 8
Original post by pmd_qwe
You shouldn't study an OU course after A-levels as a replacement for a traditional university experience, no.
More generally, anyone for whom attending a physical university full-time is a realistic option should do that.

The OU is better suited for people who need to work, lack traditional entrance qualifications, or for some other reason find it impractical to study in the normal way. It's invaluable for those people, but an 18 year old absolutely should not do an online degree.


Oh alright. So the OU is generally more for people with jobs/families/busy lives so they do a OU course part time?
Reply 9
I actually quite liked the look of OU. There was so many courses and courses that I've never seen in an actual uni before. I'm gonna have to do some more research I think
Original post by _Robyn_
Oh alright. So the OU is generally more for people with jobs/families/busy lives so they do a OU course part time?


That was certainly the case when I did my OU degree. People studied part-time while doing jobs and raising families. If you do one 60 credit module per year, it would take you 6 years to get an honours degree. When did my course, one year I decided to do two 60 credit modules at the same time. It was very hard work and I had to be incredibly well-organised because of the assessment load. It's not unusual to have 5 or 6 assignments on an OU module as well as an exam at the end. It was doable but I would only advise this if you are a highly organised person!
Original post by _Robyn_
I actually quite liked the look of OU. There was so many courses and courses that I've never seen in an actual uni before. I'm gonna have to do some more research I think


Might be worth checking out any courses that catch your eye here https://discoveruni.gov.uk/
Have a look at the NSS results from 2021 (2022 stats will be available from September)
Original post by Master0fReality
An online only university where everything is distance learning. Think regular university during the pandemic. Everything is online. Your university experience would be sitting at a computer for three years with no face to face interaction with anybody in regard to university. It's ok for some, terrible for others you also don't get the same Student Finance for Open University study, at least not to the same level as brick and mortar students because distance learners don't qualify for most of it, you would get a part time tuition fee loan, but that's it.


That is not very accurate. It is a mix of online tutorials and face to face tutorials in addition to self study by working through the module manuals. I did a DipHe with the OU and the then went on to do a Law degree that was done through a partnership with the OU and the College of Law (Now Ulaw) and the level of face to face tutorials were quite significant, although it was not compulsory to attend. There were also many legal research days undertaken on campus (my nearest one being in Chester). Not sure whether this is the norm for other OU courses but mine was definitely more of a hybrid model, rather than distance learning.
Original post by _Robyn_
There was so many courses and courses that I've never seen in an actual uni before.


The OU is an actual Uni. One of the largest in Europe in fact :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by _Robyn_
Oh alright. So the OU is generally more for people with jobs/families/busy lives so they do a OU course part time?


To some extent but you also get a lot of graduates on employer sponsorship programmes. We had a lot of Graduates from Russell group Uni's with banking and finance firms who were studying Contract law, Equity and Trusteeships and Land Law modules. There were also young people who had caring responsibilities which meant a traditional Uni was not an option, so the cohort is very diverse in that respect.
Original post by _Robyn_
After a levels is it good to do open uni instead of going to a regular uni? Like what exactly are the pros and cons. And are the courses more cheaper?


This entirely depends on what you want to do.; what your career goals are, whether you want the 'uni experience' or not etc. The open university usually works out cheaper than traditional uni and considerably cheaper in other areas of the country, yes.
Original post by pmd_qwe
You shouldn't study an OU course after A-levels as a replacement for a traditional university experience, no.
More generally, anyone for whom attending a physical university full-time is a realistic option should do that.

The OU is better suited for people who need to work, lack traditional entrance qualifications, or for some other reason find it impractical to study in the normal way. It's invaluable for those people, but an 18 year old absolutely should not do an online degree.

This is pretty terrible 'advice'. Gifted 16 year olds can do an OU degree if they want. If an 18 year old wishes to do an online degree, whatever their reasons, it is perfectly okay to do so. What you've written gives out such a negative picture of online degrees, like it's somehow going to be damaging to them if they do it when they're young. If they don't care for the uni experience, which I don't think is as great as some people imagine it is, doing an online degree is a great alternative whilst allowing them to work.

Myself and other students who have done an OU degree have traditional entrance qualifications also. I met a couple of people who had already completed a degree at a traditional university before starting their university degree, so it is misinformation to assume that every OU student lack the traditional qualifications.
Original post by _Robyn_
Oh alright. So the OU is generally more for people with jobs/families/busy lives so they do a OU course part time?

Please see above. If you want to do the OU, there's nothing stopping you. I actually wish I had done it when I left sixth form. I live at home and worked part time in the NHS whilst I did my degree. Everyone's situation and reasons for choosing the OU is different. They aren't all "uneducated" (as in lacking qualifications) middle aged people working full time with kids to look after - there are people in their early 20s to people in their late 70s doing it for their own reasons, some even doing a second or third degree with them, and that's what's nice about the OU. You meet all sorts of people and you're part of a collective where the main goal is education and self improvement. :smile:
Reply 17
Original post by -Eirlys-
This is pretty terrible 'advice'. Gifted 16 year olds can do an OU degree if they want. If an 18 year old wishes to do an online degree, whatever their reasons, it is perfectly okay to do so. What you've written gives out such a negative picture of online degrees, like it's somehow going to be damaging to them if they do it when they're young. If they don't care for the uni experience, which I don't think is as great as some people imagine it is, doing an online degree is a great alternative whilst allowing them to work.

Myself and other students who have done an OU degree have traditional entrance qualifications also. I met a couple of people who had already completed a degree at a traditional university before starting their university degree, so it is misinformation to assume that every OU student lack the traditional qualifications.

Please see above. If you want to do the OU, there's nothing stopping you. I actually wish I had done it when I left sixth form. I live at home and worked part time in the NHS whilst I did my degree. Everyone's situation and reasons for choosing the OU is different. They aren't all "uneducated" (as in lacking qualifications) middle aged people working full time with kids to look after - there are people in their early 20s to people in their late 70s doing it for their own reasons, some even doing a second or third degree with them, and that's what's nice about the OU. You meet all sorts of people and you're part of a collective where the main goal is education and self improvement. :smile:


Thank you. I think I might research more into the ou as it does sound something that'll I'll be interested in and suit me. :smile:
Original post by -Eirlys-
This is pretty terrible 'advice'. Gifted 16 year olds can do an OU degree if they want. If an 18 year old wishes to do an online degree, whatever their reasons, it is perfectly okay to do so.
Of course it's allowed- I just personally advise against it, is all.

Time for me to disclose my bias:
The OU has been a wonderful thing for me, but I do regret that for various reasons I didn't/couldn't go to uni at 18 in the normal way.

What you've written gives out such a negative picture of online degrees, like it's somehow going to be damaging to them if they do it when they're young.
That's a wildly uncharitable reading of my post. Of course getting a degree is not "damaging". But skipping the brick uni experience is a decision that should be made with a great deal of caution.

If they don't care for the uni experience, which I don't think is as great as some people imagine it is, doing an online degree is a great alternative whilst allowing them to work.
Moving out for university usually serves as a gentle easing into independent adult life, and a chance to be surrounded by peers at the same life stage as yourself with common goals. Skipping that for the chance to start working earlier is only a good trade-off in a financial sense. Life isn't all about money and work.


They aren't all "uneducated" (as in lacking qualifications) middle aged people working full time with kids to look after - there are people in their early 20s to people in their late 70s doing it for their own reasons, some even doing a second or third degree with them, and that's what's nice about the OU.


Myself and other students who have done an OU degree have traditional entrance qualifications also. I met a couple of people who had already completed a degree at a traditional university before starting their university degree, so it is misinformation to assume that every OU student lack the traditional qualifications.

I did not say that the OU is only suitable for those without A-levels.
I said that reasons one might study an OU degree include:

* Needing to work
* Lacking entrance qualifications
* Other reasons

I'll admit that my statement "an 18 year old absolutely should not do an online degree" was too strong. I can conceive of circumstances under which it would be the right choice for them.

But these circumstances would be very unusual, and OP would have mentioned them. Instead he/she simply asked for pros and cons and whether the courses are cheaper. The implication is that both brick uni and the OU are realistic options, and the prospect of a smaller student loan might sway their decision.
Reply 19
Original post by pmd_qwe
Of course it's allowed- I just personally advise against it, is all.

Time for me to disclose my bias:
The OU has been a wonderful thing for me, but I do regret that for various reasons I didn't/couldn't go to uni at 18 in the normal way.

That's a wildly uncharitable reading of my post. Of course getting a degree is not "damaging". But skipping the brick uni experience is a decision that should be made with a great deal of caution.

Moving out for university usually serves as a gentle easing into independent adult life, and a chance to be surrounded by peers at the same life stage as yourself with common goals. Skipping that for the chance to start working earlier is only a good trade-off in a financial sense. Life isn't all about money and work.



I did not say that the OU is only suitable for those without A-levels.
I said that reasons one might study an OU degree include:

* Needing to work
* Lacking entrance qualifications
* Other reasons

I'll admit that my statement "an 18 year old absolutely should not do an online degree" was too strong. I can conceive of circumstances under which it would be the right choice for them.

But these circumstances would be very unusual, and OP would have mentioned them. Instead he/she simply asked for pros and cons and whether the courses are cheaper. The implication is that both brick uni and the OU are realistic options, and the prospect of a smaller student loan might sway their decision.


Thanks for your comment, I can see your point more clearly now. And I use they/them pronouns :wink:

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