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All About the Open University

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 21 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Studying Distance Learning Open

Most of us have heard of the Open University. It’s the source of those weird programmes you used to see on late-night BBC2 in which long-haired, cardigan-clad professors tried to explain the intricacies of quantum theory to bleary-eyed insomniacs. Today, the television programmes are gone, but the Open University is still going strong. In fact, it is now officially Britain’s largest university with more than 150,000 students enrolled. In recent years, many young people have even been opting to study for their degrees at the Open University instead of the conventional brick-and-mortar kind.

Entry Qualifications to the Open University

From the beginning, what set the Open University apart was that its courses were accessible to those who lacked the academic qualifications typically required for entry to traditional universities. It was intended to open doors to those who for whatever reason - family expectations, need to earn a living, low academic achievement - did not undertake a university education after leaving school, and were left with a lingering sense of unfulfilment because of it.

Don’t think, though, that because the Open University has broader entry criteria than most universities that its standards are in any way less rigorous. Its quality standards are checked in the same way as those of any other British university and its qualifications are equivalent and recognised as such.

What’s Involved At Studying at the Open University

The Open University is designed to be flexible, to meet a variety of needs from students of diverse backgrounds, some of whom may even be in full-time work. For this reason, there are far fewer time constraints when studying at the Open University than there are elsewhere. If you like, you can usually pursue your studies over many years, at a pace dictated by your own life circumstances.

Most Open University courses are accessed primarily via distance learning. Some include residential components too; others are based entirely on distance learning. In some courses, you may be required to attend in person only for exams; in others, even the exams are conducted remotely. If there is some reason why attendance in person is difficult for you, exceptions can usually be negotiated.

Courses are accessed in a variety of ways. In the old days, this usually meant twilight-hour television programmes and audio tapes, but in the digital age, naturally, the Internet has come to the forefront. You will usually submit papers online, access course materials online, and even participate in online conferences with your tutors and fellow students.

Courses on Offer at the Open University

The Open University offers the same broad spectrum of degree courses you would expect to find at most universities, covering everything from English literature to science and Information Technology. In total, 13 subject areas are taught at undergraduate level. There is also a wide variety of taught Masters degree courses at post-graduate level.

Financing an Open University Course

All Open University courses have to be paid for, other than those freely available (on a course material basis only) under the OpenLearn program.

Open University students are not eligible for the student loans and maintenance grants which are standard at other universities. The Open University operates separate financial assistance schemes of its own, however. You can get help towards buying a computer, and can get some or all of your course fees paid for on your behalf depending on your household income level. The assistance options are primarily aimed at undergraduate learners; some help is available for postgraduate courses but it is more limited in scope.

Open University – Conclusion

The Open University has changed the lives of many people who might never otherwise have been able to enjoy the benefits of a higher education. So whether you pine to learn more about medieval Italian literature, or just want a new qualification to help with your career, check it out. There might be something there for you.

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Bill - Your Question:
I want to know how I apply for a grant for training courses as I have been made redundant. I went to the job centre and they said they knew nothing about it. All I need is an email address so I can apply does anyone know this.So many people tell me I can claim £1500 worth of training but they have no idea how to do it, I have looked on web sites and they all say the same ie you can get a grant but they don't give you the all important bit the how to apply. I hope someone will be able to give me the email address or where I can go and see someone that knows

Our Response:
We can only direct you to the gov.uk site here which may help you further. Much also depends upon what you wish to train for. However, there are limited funds for training currently, as most tend to be loans rather than grants, especially via university.
RedundancyExpert - 24-Jul-17 @ 10:18 AM
I want to know how I apply for a grant for training courses as I have been made redundant. I went to the job centre and they said they knew nothing about it. All I need is an email address so I can apply does anyone know this. So many people tell me I can claim £1500 worth of training but they have no idea how to do it, I have looked on web sites and they all say the same ie you can get a grant but they don't give you the all important bit the how to apply. I hope someone will be able to give me the email address or where I can go and see someone that knows
Bill - 21-Jul-17 @ 5:09 PM
I have been out of work 6years and worked as a Labourer on demolition sites. But I asked job centre for help to do a digger course as I would like to get back to work and was told to find an employer who would take me on first no-one would so much for government telling people that would get help
Shaun green - 30-May-17 @ 4:44 PM
It's not all positive at the Open University. Thousands of staff are currently being made redundant, the OU plans to close all regional centres across England over the next few years, Student Support services are being cut back and the overall student experience is being significantly damaged which is why student numbers are severely down. They will take your money for course fees but offer no support when you have problems and can't complete your course. Therefore you will have wasted a lot of time and a lot of your money!
OU - 3-Jun-15 @ 3:41 PM
Thanks for this - just what I needed.
OP - 26-Nov-14 @ 2:25 PM
Interested in grants/loans for a hgv course.
kay - 19-Jun-14 @ 9:10 PM
hi I have been looking for a grant or funding to do my hgv/lgv driver my adviser sad that if I can find the name for the grant he will put if in for itI have been on jsa for 2years and 9m been tuned down for jobs so many times this is the only way to get back in to work do you no the name for this grantthanks marklathamplease contact me by email thanks
n.a - 8-Feb-14 @ 12:29 PM
@red123 tell me about it Iama fork lift driver with 20 yrs experiance, i lost my job and my licences need refreshing after waiting a month to get seen despite them initialy offering £150 towards the course it then turns out that they wont pay for anything practical at all even after i explained that part of the course is classroom based they wouldnt help, and this was my so called advisor who is there to help me get back into work! I have a mild disability which makes me unable to stand for long periods too. I asked well what am i supposed to do now then baring in mind this sort of work is all ive done and she just shrugged her shoulders and gave me a vacant glace at that point i knew the meeting was over!
Ginge - 11-Jan-13 @ 6:44 AM
The government retraining grant is no use to anybody it is pathetic if you are on benefit you dont y get it what poss use is £30 to anyone. SO IN REALITY THERE IS NO HELP TO RETRAIN FROM THE GOV WHAT PLANET DO THEY LIVE ON
red123 - 9-Nov-12 @ 10:39 PM
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