The Open University, a different way to study.

OK, this post is going to be an unabashed advertisement for the Open University. I don’t work for them, I’m not doing this for any personal gain, I’m doing it because I’m a student at the OU (I’m working towards a degree in Geosciences), I love it, and I’d like more people to know about it.

If you’ve ever wanted to earn a degree, or just want to study a subject you found interesting, but feel that you can’t attend a traditional university for some reason, be it not enough time or money, or you haven’t got great qualifications from school, or you’re getting on-a-bit and you can’t face all those over-excited teenagers, then the OU may have something for you.

The OU is a British University, set up in 1969. It’s different from a traditional university though, in that almost all of the teaching is long-distance, and anyone can sign-up for a degree, it doesn’t matter what your past qualifications are, if you want to learn then the OU will take you on. You can also choose to study at your own pace too, you decide how many modules you want to do each year, so it could take you 3 years to earn a bachelors degree, or ten years, or more.

It’s a great way to study if you have limitations and can’t spend 3 years studying full-time at a more traditional university, say if you want to study part-time, or you can’t move away from where you live, or prefer to study by yourself, rather than attending lectures everyday.

The OU offers a wide range of subjects, from science, to law, to the humanities, and a variety of qualifications, from undergraduate certificates and diplomas, to bachelor’s degrees, right up to PhDs. Although it’s a British based university, you can study all over the world too. Based on student numbers, the OU is the biggest university in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world.

Most of the study is done through working through material they send to you in the post, like books and DVDs, and using the OU website to download articles and other material. You get a great mix of different media, which keeps things fresh. There are also course forums, where you can socialise online with other students, and you also have the occasional tutorial in a location near you, where you get to meet other students, and your assigned tutor face-to-face. There are also summer school courses where you spend a week with your fellow students doing practical work and drinking beer (although these are being phased out, as well as some of the science degrees, due to cuts in government funding, goddamn politicians!)

There are no typical OU students, I’ve met people from all walks of life, of all ages, from a retired successful businessman who wanted to earn a degree, a young girl with Asperger’s syndrome who didn’t want to go to a traditional University, a stay-at-home mother who wanted a convenient option to fit around child care, to a retired academic who wanted to try something a bit different. All of these people are united by a desire to learn; you get a real sense that everyone is in this together (in a good way though, not like the Blitz or something).

So if you’ve always wanted to study, and wanted to earn a degree or another qualification, but thought you couldn’t for some reason, then check out the Open University. You may find something that suits you.

You can check out their website.

Their YouTube channel.

And even their iTunes U videos.

PS. If any OU students ever read this, I’d love to know hear your reasons for joining the OU.

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