You might have picked up that I'm studying English at the moment. I never went away to university, despite being offered a place. A few years ago I started searching for a way to study again, and the OU turned out to be the best idea ever. With all the fuss about tuition fees at the moment, I thought I'd outline why the best option for a lot of people will be the Open University.
1) Time. Ok, so it might take six years to get a degree with the OU, but studying part-time allows you to work as well. Full-time studying is still an option though.
2) Money. Most of my friends who went away to uni paid £3,000 per year to study their course. I paid £1,250 for the equivalent. Except that I didn't, because I got a grant. Factor in the lack of accommodation fees (if you study from home) and just look at the difference. I will finish my degree with a total debt of £0.
3) Flexibility. There is a huge range of courses to choose from, and there's masses of flexibility. Apart from the offer of an "open degree" (a qualification made up of whatever subjects you like) OU also allows you to:
- Take a break for a year or so and come back to studying later
- Change your mind in between courses and study for a different qualification than you first intended
- Transfer credits to/from mainstream university (sometimes)
4) Recognition. Distance learning is tough because you have to be really motivated and have enough discipline to stick to schedule. Thus, OU degrees are valued highly by employers because they show that you have those qualities.
5) Satisfaction. OU is always in the top few, and often the number one university for student satisfaction in Britain.
6) Access. I'm selling the benefits of OU as an alternative to mainstream university, but one of the key advantages is that you can study at any point in your life. Most of the people I met on my last course were over 30 and had families. Open University - it does what it says on the tin.
If you're a student outside the UK looking to study with the Open University then follow this link.