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Anyone have experience with the Open University?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Maseybaby, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Maseybaby

    Maseybaby Bit Poster

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    Hey guys, suppose I should give a quick introduction of myself before I ask a question :)
    Well after my A levels last year I decided to take a year out and do a year of work. Now it's basically time to go to University but I can't decide what the better option is. After speaking to numerous people, experience and experience alone seems to be the determining factor whether you get the well paid challenging job or serving chips; so this got me thinking into whether I should stay working in IT while doing part time study for a degree, or go the traditional route and go to Manchester University and do a 4 year sandwich course. Things that are bothering me about the OU (besides the the lack of beer I will be drinking compared to the formal University method) is basically, do employers see an Open University degree as "second-rate"? Also, if I go Manc Uni the problem there is as well, I could have 3 years extra in the IT field if I studied at the OU which might be much more beneficial to me.
    Argh to hard to decide, just wondering if any of you guys could give your input, would be greatly appreciated!
    Cheers
    Lee
     
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: Computer Sci, MCDST, MCITP, CCNA
  2. zcapr17

    zcapr17 Nibble Poster

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    In general I believe that the Open University has a very good reputation. However, for some reason the OU is not listed in the Times Good University Guide (http://extras.timesonline.co.uk/gug/gooduniversityguide.php)

    You are right that you will miss a lot of the extra-curricular stuff compared with the traditional route, but either way a degree is a sound investment in the rest of your life. Remember, studying for a degree is a very valuable experience in itself and will pay off longer-term.

    Having completed a masters in physics myself I know that you learn a lot more from a degree than just the subject knowledge (e.g. independence, learning methodologies, determination, time management, communication skills etc.) and as someone who has recruited many IT staff in the last three years a degree is a big plus point on a CV for precisely these reasons.
     
    Certifications: MCSE:2K3 MCTS:Vista VCPv3 ITILv3 Sec+ L+
    WIP: MCITP Enterprise Admin 2008, CCA
  3. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    I personally believe that University is an experience not to be missed. I had the best time of my life living in halls of residence, the in a small house with housemates, then student flats - an awesome time that I would love to live again.

    If i were in your shoes I'd go the traditional route - especially as you'd be going to Manchester, what can you lose? :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  4. Maseybaby

    Maseybaby Bit Poster

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    Yeah I was thinking that, thing is though I've landed an ok first IT job that pays like 20k a year, dno whether it's worth getting into a lot of debt when in 3 years I could have a degree, more experience and have made 60k, unsure whether the lifestyle is worth that.But I suppose your right I had an awesome time when I went newquay with my m8s and I suppose it would be a similar lifestyle for 3 years.

    Guess im pretty content on signing up with the OU, just want to be 100% clear that it's a good University and a valuable degree, I don't want to waste time with a second-rate degree that's not half as good as one from a redbrick University so they say.
     
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: Computer Sci, MCDST, MCITP, CCNA
  5. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    I'll never recommend that someone avoid going to college - it's certainly worthwhile. However, I *would* recommend that you continue to work while going to school - at least part time if full time is not possible. It's not easy... but it can be done; I worked full time while going to school full time. That said, I didn't have the option of not working, so it was that or nothing.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  6. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    The Open U has a very good reputation. So no, a degree from them will not be classed as second rate.

    There is a 3rd option available to you:
    • Study part-time (2 evenings a week) at a traditional Uni.
    That is the option I did. It's not an easy option, but it was the best option for me - and it may be the best option for you.

    In a nut shell:

    Plus side:
    1. Cheaper than Open U
    2. You get to participate in some of "Uni's life"
    3. You'll get your degree from a "traditional" Uni, if you're really that bothered
    4. You'll get your IT experience thrown in as well by not giving up your job
    5. Cheaper than the Open U* or the Full Time course. *depending on the Uni itself (mine was)
    Down side:
    1. Takes longer than the full time course (4 years for the BSc/BA or 5 years for the BSc(Hon))
    2. You have to attend 2 evenings a week (unlike Open U)
    3. It is harder as you're working and studying constantly for x amount of years
    Hope this helps

    -ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  7. S7AN

    S7AN New Member

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    Just wan't to contribute regarding traditional degree and beer from own expirience.....
    It all sounds good but after a while drinking cheap vodka going to cheap clubs, pubs and being unable to afford good clothes and other life accessories, working part time just to pay for food pretty much and still building big debt is frustrating. Degree is all good but unless you live at home or have some money saved up is not all that fun. Main plus in my opinion is opportunity to get into well paid graduate scheme training programmes in big companies. And as technology constantly updates real work expirience would be much bigger advantage than outdated Uni subject knowledge in my opinion again.

    Also if i'm not mistaken to get 2:1 at OU you need higher percentage than traditional degree.
     
    Certifications: BTEC IT
  8. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    What you get at the end of your degree (as long as it is classified) is fairly irrelevant.
    Companies use this as a benchmark for them to screen applicants to reduce numbers for a job.

    But what is more worthwhile? Or what means you've worked harder for? Or what makes you a better employee? Or what is "best"? A 3rd from a top 10 university or a 1st from a bottom third university?

    Simple, they are not comparable.
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
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  9. grim

    grim Gigabyte Poster

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    my views exactly, university is something you simply cant miss out on. i still look back and wish it was longer than 3 years :(

    Grim
     
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  10. Jimbooo

    Jimbooo Nibble Poster

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    I'm going to Manchester Metropolitan in September (your uni is what, 5 minutes walk from mine) to study computing.. Everyone says you have the best time of your life there and a Degree will look a hell of a lot better on a CV!
     
    Certifications: 4 A-Levels
    WIP: BSc (Hons) Computing
  11. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    In the UK, an OU degree is equivalent to a uni degree, although it will take you quite a bit longer to get part-time.

    When I was at school, a number of masters were 'OU' graduates and no less respected.

    I've done 3 years with them myself.
    The material is pretty good and the support isn't bad.

    However, the pace is pretty harsh. Miss out a couple of assignments (and you could have one every month or two) and you'll flunk.

    Although there is support via peers and tutors, nobody is going to drag you through it. Don't keep up with the work, you're out.

    I enjoyed my first couple of years, but the last one was not so good.
    I was trying to enrol on a course they hadn't heard of, so I had to send a link to their own website to them.

    Then I struggled to put the time in early on and they were pretty inflexible.

    Ultimately, the thing that put me off was that it would have taken 7 or 8 years to get a degree at an average pace.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  12. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    I don't like the saying 'an OU degree is equivalent to a uni degree'.

    The Open University is a University, accredited, official. It's courses aren't equivalent to degrees; they are degrees, and shouldn't be treated in any less a manner.

    The main difference that stands the OU out is accessibility.

    Whilst most UK Universities will offer some form of part time courses, the course range is often limited (ie, certain universities may only offer part time engineering degrees). Any university course that is offered part time will take around 4 to 5 years to complete; this is not a failure of the OU, it is the understanding that you're trying to do a course that would take 2 years full time study, spread over one or two nights a week.

    And whilst 'traditional' universities may still want you to sit exams or have educational prerequisites to get onto their courses, the OU has no such criterion, instead recommending that you (sensibly) start your studying at Level 1 (entry level) to get yourself back into the swing of study.

    It's tough to do, as already quite correctly mentioned by JonnyMX. Self study is all well and good, but when you're on a degree course you've got deadlines to work for that true self-studying normally gives you the flexibility to work around. You have to be focused to keep on track, as one slip and it's hard to get back on an even keel.

    One of the programmers where I work got a First Class Honours in IT from the Open Uni. It took her 6 years all in all, and she took a breather of around a year in total between her courses, so she wasn't solid studying for all that time. She's doing language courses with them now, just for giggles.

    As already mentioned by Ken, if you can get into a 'traditional' uni and afford their semester fees, then the experience of university life is probably not one that should be missed.

    If you choose to do the OU course and work full time as well, remember the points made about keeping up and hitting deadlines; and you'll want it to be quality work as well. If you can afford to only work part time and do the degree, then that would be easily the best situation for you.

    Hope this makes sense, I seem to have rambled a lot. Let us know how you get on - and I'll keep y'all posted on how the degree I'm starting in October (with the OU) goes :)
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
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  13. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Even though I will have graduated ten years ago next year, I still occasionally return to visit Brunel. Walk around a bit pretending I'm one of the students again. :oops: :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  14. grim

    grim Gigabyte Poster

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    i still go back now and then coz i have friends still living there but yeah theres loads of memories there.

    Grim
     
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  15. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    The real difference between the OU and a traditional university is that getting drunk and wearing a traffic cone on your head isn't as much fun on your own.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  16. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Sorry, that's what I meant - didn't phrase it terribly well...

    :oops:
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  17. richardw

    richardw Nibble Poster

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    You dont say where abouts in the UK you are, or why you want to go to UofM.

    Are there no local uni's that do an IT course, & then see if you can stay where you are working part-time?

    Youll also need to weigh up the cost of doing the degree.
    Tuition fees for 2008/9 are £3145, they increase for each academic year, & is likely to be 1/2 fees for the sandwich/placement year. You can get a tuition fee loan from the Student Loans Company to cover the fees, which you start paying back after you graduate.
    So for your 4 year degree, tuition fees are going to be £11000+
    Then living expenses, rent & utilities = approx £90 per week, then food etc on top.

    You have to be certain that the course is one that you really want to do, & are not going to be dropping out of, & that whichever uni you decide to go to, aim for those that are in the top 15 for that specific course.
     
    Certifications: MOS (Master), MMI
    WIP: MCAS, AAT
  18. Maseybaby

    Maseybaby Bit Poster

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    Well im based in Stoke-on-Trent, after my A-levels (maths,physics and IT) I was going to go to bournemouth Uni. But i thought well, i've read and heard of a lot of horror stories from too many people saying that if you come out of uni with no experience, well your pretty much knackered trying to break into the IT industry. So i thought i'd give it a year and see what will happen after that, decided to go into the RAF as an officer a year later but withdrew my application because (after getting into cramwell) I knew i wanted to get into IT.

    Everybody I spoke to told me to get the experience first with certifications and then later on study for your degree as it will only help when aiming for a management position but won't help at the start of my career.

    So i'm now 20 and with a training provider (yes I know wish I had chosen the self study route but only found this website after) taking A+, MCP, MCDST. MCTS : SQL server and MCITP. I was thinking after I have done these which will probably take me around a years time, I will go to University. So I will be applying for next September on a computing course while working (think I've chosen to go the OU path now, I've been to a lot of different Universities as most of my friends have ended up there, so I get to visit whenever I want :biggrin )


    So anyway after a little rant I think I may have chosen the right path? Certifications + work in IT now, degree next year but the OU and it should set me on a good career path?

    Anyway, if anyone struggles with learning, try and get your hands on Paul Mckenna - Accelerated Learning, it's a 50 minute video and it really helps a lot to get into the right mindstate and memorise the facts.
     
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: Computer Sci, MCDST, MCITP, CCNA

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