The Open University: distance learning in the UK

The Open University

We have explained more than once that university in the UK is quite expensive, over £9,000 a year. But if that discourages you from studying in the UK, you can consider a good alternative that is a little cheaper: The Open University, the distance learning university.

I’m writing about this today because a few days ago I was looking up degrees and masters at various universities. Everything was a bit overpriced until I chanced upon the OU. It is very well known, but immigrants might not be as familiar with it. So I want to make it a little better known.

Data about the OU

Founded in 1969, it is the country’s largest university by enrollment number, in addition to being in the global Top15 with more than 250,000 university students. 50,000 of them study from abroad.

Over the course of its history, over 1.5 million people have obtained their diplomas there.

Studying in the OU

There are a wide range of degrees in more than 15 department. You can study anything from Art to Engineering, Chemistry or Social Work. Whatever you decide, they have it for sure.

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business Administration
  • Informatics
  • Design
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Care
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Languages
  • Law
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Medical Sciences
  • Nursing and Healthcare Practice
  • Psychology
  • Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology

Types of Degrees

In another article on the British Education System, we explained that studies can fall into three categories, depending on the credit and/or length in years.

  • 1 year / 120 credits: Certificates of higher education (CertHEs)
  • 2-year / 240 credits: Diplomas of higher education (DipHEs) or Foundation degree
  • 3-year / 360 credits: Degrees / Graduated = Bachelors Degree

So if you are interested (for example) in Fine Arts or History, but do not want to do the whole degree because you just plan to learn but not to work in that sector, you might be interested in doing one year and just getting a certificate. However, you can also take two years of Business Administration or Graphic Design if that would help your career.

The other advantage is that you can switch from one degree to another depending on whether you’re interested or not. This way, you really get educated at the level you actually require, leaving the overtraining for once you actually get a specific job specific. And what if you want to change your sector? Imagine that you work as a social worker and you want to try out a scientific field. You could get a CertHEs, and if you get a job, continue your studies and transfer to that field definitively. You set the limits.

Time for yourself…

You obviously have a lot of flexibility while studying, as the OU allows you to go at your own pace. You can register as Part-time or Full-time. That means there is a limit of up to 12 years to get you your chosen degree.

It takes about 18h of studying per week for 60 credits a year.

More affordable price

The modules cost between £1,350 (30 credits) and £2,700 (60 credits). A full year of 120 credits is £5,400. Compared to other British universities, it is 40% cheaper annually.

There is option of Tuition Fee loans, which you only begin to repay when you start earning more than £21,000 a year, with the repayments proportional to your salary. For example, if you earn £30,000 per year, the fee for the loan would be £67 monthly.

For people on benefits or with low incomes, there are other, more affordable financing options.

However, these prices are for residents of England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, the modules are cheaper. For example, for 30 credits the price would lower until it reaches between £452 and £702 a year.

Learn for free

If you are just looking to expand your knowledge and learn new things, and you don’t care about titles, the OU has two sites where you can access contents of various subjects in the catalog free of charge and study for free.

  • OpenLearn  = has online courses on Criminology, Mathematics, Writing , Psychology, Music, etc.
  • FutureLearn = a site where several British universities unite their resources to provide free online courses of all kinds. For example, the University of Southampton offers History; the University of Reading, Programming Games; and the University of Strathclyde, Forensic Sciences. And they are adding more new courses every day.

So if you feel motivated or need more info about this:

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