Anyone with experience of OU degree programs?

I've done a bit of online learning before - I did a learndirect course in marketing last year. But obviously doing an entire degree online will take a lot more commitment. I hopefully will have the credits from my BSc Computer Science course I did at Queen's University Belfast for a year and a half, before leaving it to come over here, so hopefully that should leave less than 2years worth of fulltime course element to complete.

Does anyone have experience of fitting in distance learning to this level around work, family and running? (I don't have the family commitments myself being a single, but would be interesting to know). Can you tell me if you were able to keep motivated, and how much time per week roughly you spent going through the course materials?

How did you find the tutor support if needed?
Did you successfully complete and attain your degree?
How do employers view OU degrees vs normal bricks and mortar degrees?

I asked a lot of that in past tense, but if you are currently going through your degree, I'd be interested to hear from you as well.

Thankyou so much in anticipation for any advice and experience you guys are able to offer!



  • I completed two years of an OU course and got a Diploma in Computing (or something like it). I continued into the third year, but failed one course - automatically. Despite having good coursework, because my employer wouldn't let me have a week off for the compulsory Summer school, I couldn't get a pass grade. Never bothered trying any more courses (although I think the Summer school has been ditched since).

    Tutor support? Can't really comment - never really bothered with them aside from getting coursework marked.

    Employer view? In my experience, didn't make a blind bit of difference having any kind of qualification whatsoever - I got my first job off the back of a (long) programming test at the interview, and my current job with the experience from the first. Don't think either employer cared/cares where I studied.

    Having said all that, the courses themselves weren't too bad; I'd consider doing other OU courses for non-career purposes if I had more time. I found the workload fairly light - but did nowhere near the recommended hours, usually doing just a few hours during the week and a few at weekends. I guess the tricky bit is managing your time effectively enough to get the required study hours in; nowadays, I'd struggle to manage the recommended hours (10 hrs/week for a 30 credit course, off the top of my head).

    Hope this helps some. Good luck.
  • I got my BSc from OU. It did take me longer than I really wanted it to. I ended up doing a few half credits becasue could not fit it all in. I was trying to keep up a family life, training and worked abroad quite a bit (even took exams at the Brit Embassy in Riyadh).
    It can be done and you do have to be quite organised to fit everything in.

    Summer schools where wicked, loved them.

    Found tutor support a bit lacking. I got more info/help from family/friends than I did the tutors but that may be becasue I did not really bother to much with them.

    I also found that because I was not bothered about getting high marks in everything I did and was happy to just get a pass rather than distinctions etc I did not put in the amount of time that they say you have to. Equally I did not find the courses as difficult as I would have thought.

    As for work, even though they paid for itall, they could not care less if I had the degree or not, did not get promotion/pay rise. However the knowledge I aquired through the OU has helped me 'climb the corporate ladder'

    Go for it and good luck.

  • I did an OU course, but it wasn't a degree - just a small part of one for prsonal interest.

    I also tutored a course.

    Generally support is good, and they're making mnore and more use of email and online conferencing to support students.

    Lindi hopper works for the OU and can probably give more up to date info, it's been a few years since I worked for them
  • notpete, sorry to hear that your employer was not understanding enough to give you that week!

    Thanks for the replies guys!
  • Hi,

    I remember from previous questions that there are a few OU students on the forums, but they are probably too busy to answer you at the moment :)

    As you may have guessed I am an OU student, ad have been for a few years. The OU year traditionally runs from Feb to Oct, which is why most students will be busy at the mo, although an increasing number of courses are now offered which start at other times of the year.

    Generally, the amount of time you spend on a course depends on the level and type of the course, how much you know about the subject before you start, and how important it is to you to get the higher marks. Fitting it in can be difficult, at the moment I have a 1hr train journey (each way) to/from work which I use as reading time, but not everyone is that lucky.

    Tutor support can be a liitle variable - I've not yet had a bad tutor, but some tutors are very 'hands on' while others are 'hand off'. Personally I prefer the latter, but I know of a number of students who have floudered because they need the sorrt of encouragement (and pestering about staying on timetable) that comes with the latter.

    Very few of the courses I have studied are work-related so I don't bother to put them on my CV, so I'm afraid I can't help you there.

  • Hi there. I did a year of an OU psychology degree. It was an introduction course and we had quite a few tutorials. They helped with the motivation and a group of us formed a bit of a study group and went out to the pub together. I discovered I already knew our tutor which was a help. The summer school was great. But our tutor went off sick towards the end of the course and the replacement tutor marked us all down on our last TMAs which caused us to lose confidence somewhat.

    But keeping the motivation going when working full time was stressful. Plus I had a few personal problems at the time. I really only realised how stressful when the exam was over and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. Hence I didn't start a second year. I do hope to take it up again one day though.
  • hi jonathan

    i'm just reaching the end of year 1 of an OU maths degree.

    tutor support is i guess very dependant on the tutor. you have access to them by phone, email and tutorials. mine is very good at getting back to me quickly, marking assignments quickly etc but is not hugely confidence inspiring in tutorials (hence i've only been to 2). then in addition there is a good online community of students and tutors which can be really helpful

    i haven't found it hard to do along with work. i'm doing 60 points plus a full time job plus training without too much trouble. more than 60 points would be quite tough though i think.

    the OU is moving away from having required summer schools to pass a particular course (hence solving notpete's problem) but instead have required summer schools that you can do at any point in your degree so giving a lot more flexibility.

    on the question how is an OU degree viewed against a traditional degree - it wasn't all that relevant to me as mine is more a hobby than a career step. but from my point of view a "traditional" degree doesn't exist. its too wide a spectrum to compare to. are you comparing an OU degree to a degree from Oxbridge/Imperial/LSE/Warwick etc or to a one of the "soft skills" type degrees from a renamed poly?

    i do a fair amount of recruitment for my employer so from a personal point of view if someone came to me with an OU degree instead of a traditional one i guess i'd be impressed at the level of commitment required. but i'd want to know why they chose that route. in particular i'd want to see pretty good reasons if they'd dropped out of traditional uni in the first place.

    just my opinion obviously - hope it helps though
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