Established in 1969, The Open University (OU) is a world-class institution specialising in distance learning. To date around two million students have beneﬁ ted from a ﬂexible method of studying for qualiﬁ cations from this hugely innovative educational institution.
Although plenty of colleges and universities offer distance learning, the OU is unique in being a purely distance learning specialist and in its experience and understanding of how to support remote learners.
The OU teaches through its own unique method of distance learning, called ‘supported open learning’, based on four principles:
- Flexible – students work where and when they choose to ﬁt in with jobs, families and other commitments
- All-inclusive – students get all the high-quality materials they need to study
- Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials. Specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
- Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and course forums.
The combination of ﬂexibility and support helps students learn at their own pace towards their goals and just as with studying at other well-known universities, qualiﬁ cations accredited by the OU are highly respected by employers – as well as affordable.
The OU channels huge resources into world-leading research into teaching strategies and educational technologies that ensures that support materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale open learning. Furthermore, The Open University’s courses are underpinned by research of international excellence and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny.
Studying with the OU
The learning process is straightforward. Students are assessed through tutor-marked and computer-marked assignments, oral or practical assessments, projects, examinations, dissertations and portfolios. As with other university courses, external examining ensures that the OU maintains high academic standards.
Students don’t just receive marks for their assignments, tutors also provide valuable, detailed, written feedback and offer support to students by phone, email, or online conferencing – with some courses including group or online tutorials and day schools. The OU also beneﬁ ts from a range of expertise including full-time members of staff, although most are associate lecturers: experts in their subject who combine their work as tutors with other academic or industry jobs. As well as that, students can access and share free OU content, on the BBC, YouTube, iTunesU and OpenLearn.
Career development for the Forces Family
The Open University is proud of their excellent relationship with the MoD and is ideally placed to help Service-leavers acquire additional skills to help with their resettlement. In fact, according to the OU, they are currently supporting more than 1,500 Service personnel and their dependants with their learning.
Such is the commitment of the OU to the Services community that they’ve created a website to provide speciﬁ c advice, support and free resources to Armed Forces personnel, including Service-leavers, as well as information to help them ﬁ nd out more about what it’s like to study with the OU.
For Service personnel, OU modules can be wholly or partly ﬁnanced by Enhanced Learning Credits. You can only claim once every MoD ﬁnancial year. (Because this is not the same as the OU academic year, one claim may cover two consecutive courses).
Enhanced Learning Credit (ELC) options:
- 100% resettlement (PF FE/HE or joint ELC & PF FE/ HE) takes care of up to 360 credits worth of OU module fees leading to your ﬁ rst recognised undergraduate qualiﬁ cation. (This can be either a BA or BSc ordinary or Honours Degree or a Foundation Degree).
- 80% ELC funds most OU modules providing you pay at least 20% from your own resources. (Before submitting a claim to ELCAS you must deduct any OU discount for which you are eligible.)
Your student experience
The accepted logic might be that distance learning is an isolating experience but that’s not as The Open University sees it, offering a number of options for students to connect and learn together.
- Connect online, or in person, through tutorials, study days and study groups.
- Take part in online forums, available 24/7, to discuss your course with students, staff and alumni.
- Engage in live online interactive events with Student Hub Live.
The Open University by numbers
- The Open University has a network of more than 5,000 tutors – the largest in the UK.
- More than 170,000 students are currently studying with the OU, including 1,500 with Military connections.