Open University - worth it?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by nisseki, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. nisseki

    nisseki Nibble Poster

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    Hey guys,

    I have a HND but would like to top up for a degree.

    The OU is appealing to me as it's distance learning and seems cheaper than a traditional university.

    Has anyone done a OU degree or know someone that has?

    Yay or nay?
     
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  2. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    Hi Nisseki. A good question. I did my degree with the OU and would highly recommend it as it fits around your life. At the time I was working shifts l, 4 on 4 off so it was impossible for me to attend regular classes. I could also carry on earning while I studied. I believe this method of study is popular in the states.
    You do still have to attend the odd class. It depends on what you’re studying but these are usually in the evenings or weekends.
    All exams are usually held in a local university with proctors so if you don’t know your stuff, you will fail in the same way as you would at any university.
    The quality of teaching is very high in my experience. Sometimes professors earning more money teaching OU students in addition to a day job.
    Overall I’ve got nothing but praise for the OU. The only downside I can think of is that you miss out on being a party animal (potentially), but that was fine with me as I was early twenties and bored of all of that.
    I chose the OU because of the flexibility, because I could keep earning, my employer at the time paid for mine so I’m very lucky and had zero debt for a degree (friends have 40k) and because I’d always regretted not going to uni after my A Levels. I had a place at Liverpool to study Biochemistry but my heart wasn’t in it and I had the opportunity to start as a Junior Mainframe Operator, which would pay for a lot more beer than being a student :)
    One of the main worries I find people have is, are OU degrees taken seriously. The answer is of course, as I mentioned the exams are exactly the same. You just study remotely a lot of the time. You still do video conferences and meet your tutors. A lot if the course demands it. Obviously however the OU isn’t a redbrick so it’s never going to be Ox-bridge, but I loved it to be honest
     
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  3. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    I did my Post Graduate Diploma in Technology Management with the OU (I did my BSc with De Montfort then transferred to Northampton both as a part-time student) - with a view to complete my MSc Open (Education and Computing) within the next few years... I highly rate the OU as it gives those that can't attend a "normal" University a route to complete their qualifications up to PhD... As for whether or not they are recognised, the answer is "Yes" - they have been granted Royal Charter and because of that the UK recognises the awards (degrees, etc) issued by the OU.

    From a employment point of view, they are view in high regard - however you will come across people that may turn their noses up at OU awards, but you'll get that with any degree issued by any University tbh... For example... If you don't get a first, if the degree is not from Oxford or Cambridge, if you earn an Arts degree instead of a Science degree (BA vs BSc), etc...
     
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  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    Depends why you want a degree, personally I think the days of IT degrees are numbered, there really is no need for a degree for most IT related jobs.

    There is a need for a degree for STEM subjects, I think the part time distance learning format is probably too difficult for these subjects.

    The OU tutors are great, but I think that its best used for humanities subjects where the career payback is limited, or for getting access to traditional education by completing some 'access' online courses.

    Unfortunately the UK is pretty much organised around the whole mainstream education system, the reality is if you don't hit the degree by 21, graduate placement 21-23, etc. You are going to have a much harder time of it.
     
  5. nisseki

    nisseki Nibble Poster

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I know you don't need a degree to be successful in IT but I think it would be nice to achieve it.

    I heard that many universities accept OU degree for their postgraduate degrees and I could do my masters part time at a reputable uni.

    Another thing that attracts me to OU is that I can pay in 12 instalments compared to universities that do £9250 in 8 haha.
     
  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    The point of a real masters is to do a PhD, if you don't plan to do a PhD then there is no point.

    There are 'conversion masters' that are for mature students with some experience, they are basically a bachelors for adults.
    Again you don't need these for IT, and if you were interested you could go straight for these and skip undergrad in many subjects.

    If you are in IT you should be capable of teaching yourself pretty much anything you need to know. You don't need a standard university or pieces of paper, you can learn online and self study. You can also learn on the job.

    Training is useful so you can apply the skills and earn money, if you are just going to hand people £10k as some navel gazing exercise, I would say don't do it.
     
  7. nisseki

    nisseki Nibble Poster

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    Oh don't worry, I will never give these training providers thousands of pounds for a 5 day training course.

    My current employer had one of these come and did a windows 10 course and it was rubbish.

    I'm doing fine by self study and pass first time so far, got my CCNA next month!

    I think what I need is a mentor and to network a bit more such as going to meetup.com groups.

    I found a programming tutor in my area and my first lesson is soon. She worked in the games industry so I cannot wait to get started and hopefully build up my personal project portfolio.
     
  8. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    In my opinion this is why IT certifications are better than an IT degree in many ways. If you plan to work in an IT department, no one cares or remembers how many bits are in a byte, (8 :)). IT certification a lot of the time focuses on installing configuring designing and supporting technology and the certification usually comes from the vendor who makes said technology. In my opinion it’s a cheaper faster and more useful way to demonstrate your skills and stand out from the crowd. All recruitment staff will look for a way to turn a pile of a thousand applications into twenty and certification is an easy filter for them.
    This is a little unfair as an IT degree could be the foundation for someone doing a phd in something like quantum computing which could advance the human race, not just fix someone’s database issue ha ha each has their place. An IT degree is well favoured if IT management is your game I’ve noticed on my travels
     
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  9. Pseudonym

    Pseudonym Kilobyte Poster

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    I'd hold off a couple of years on this if I were you. I can see a similar model to WGU popping up over here in the next couple of years in the UK. I can also see a big re-structuring of further education & accreditation in general in the next decade or so. Employers & employees aren't seeing value from the current model.
     
  10. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I've been with the OU since 2000 and think they're great. Excellent value for money (especially as I got my employer to cough up for my last course).
    The main downside is other people. One of the reasons I went with the OU is that I don't want to have to go to lectures or tutorials etc. I even try to avoid modules that have exams. However, for reasons best known to themselves, the OU keeps trying to throw in 'icebreaker' activities and group assignments. Problem with that is commitment from others is often poor and I got really frustrated when a TMA question relied upon input from others which left me unable to complete it until the last minute.
    Also, due to poor planning on my part I didn't stack my modules up to form a degree, just did whatever I was interested in. Due to the changing nature of IT, they then discontinue various modules and ulimately stop your points from those modules adding up to anything. As a result I've got a massive bank of points that I can't do anything with.
    It is tough, mind. People think that because it's part time and you study from home that it's easy. It isn't. Deadlines are harsh and all the courses I did ended up with about 60% wastage from people falling behind and dropping out.

    Oh, and hello everybody...
     
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  11. dmarsh

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    Totally agree with JonnyMX, good quality tuition at a low price, but its overly onerous in terms of paperwork, exams, tutorials and point allocation. This means basically you can end up having to do 2 degrees worth of work to get one degree. A 2 year part time conversion masters will make more sense to most people, an they can also be had fairly cheap.
     
  12. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    Remember when they used to have guys with beards drawing on chalk boards at 3am on TV for you to record. Seems mad now that
     
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  13. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    They still have them. One of my IT tutors had a beard. Not sure about the chalk board, nor what he was up to at 3am...
     
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  14. dmarsh

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    I used to watch those OU programs at 5 am when I was 7 years old and woke up early and my parents were still in bed.

    Managed to learn some Maths and Engineering.

    That was when you could actually learn something from TV, instead of it being mindless propaganda and reality TV.

    The OU moved to a DVD approach when I was doing it, I really think they should be part government sponsored and the content should be freely available, not pay to play.

    The programs we now get that are joint 'BBC and OU documentaries' are completely vapid and vacuous.

    The BBC really should lose its license fee if they aren't prepared to make true educational content. Its basically a propaganda tax now.

    More sensible programs on RT and YouTube than BBC.
     
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  15. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    The format of the OU has changed quite a lot from the days of waking up at 3 to 5am to more online...

    Yes, one of the reasons for gaining a MSc is to go for the PhD, but it's not the only reason... Like @JK2447 said more higher level jobs, especially in IT Management are either listing a MSc as a requirement or even a requirement (and I've seen them, even tempted to apply for some)...

    If you're in the UK and looking to get a degree, take a look to see if you could get on an apprenticeship program, where it's paid for via the Apprenticeship Levy where you work, study and get professional certifications as well... The OU does it as well as other universities - even up to MSc level. There are training providers that do other apprentice programs that lead to level 3 and 4 qualifications.
     
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    WIP: MSc in Tech Management
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  16. nisseki

    nisseki Nibble Poster

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    I should of done an apprenticeship when I left school but now I don't think I will be eligible?
     
  17. Juelz

    Juelz Gigabyte Poster

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    Depends what you want to get into.. if its programming I’d say yes.. if its more support work or networking etc etc dont bother.

    EDIT: just to add to this, as I didnt have time earlier...
    My opinion is of all IT degrees not just OU/Online degrees. I think if someone wanted to be a network engineer they are best investing their time in IT certs rather than a degree and just learning from places such as Udemy, Pluralsight etc (its where I got most of my knowledge), partly because no one is going to let you loose on a live network simply because you have a degree, and more than likely you will start in helpdesk/desktop support role which you certainly dont need a degree for. Now if you wanted to be a programmer Id say get a degree as I think it would be a lot harder getting into the field without a related degree based on what I see when browsing job sites. @dmarsh correct me if Im wrong.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018 at 10:32 PM
  18. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Going back to the OP and thread title ‘Open University - worth it?’

    Depends what you mean by ‘worth it?’ – more knowledge or better chance of career progression etc.
     
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  19. dmarsh

    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    Computer Science degree for programmer, useful yes, essential no.
     
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  20. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

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    I'm no programmer but it felt to me that an IT degree would be more useful for a software person. I'd imagine the top developers for Google or who ever have these sorts of degrees. I could be wrong.

    @dmarsh I really liked your comment about the OU being free. Can you imagine if the government worked on apprenticeships and degrees through the OU. Education is a beautiful thing.

    So today I randomly got a letter from the OU. I got my degree eight years ago maybe and I can't remember the last letter. But anyway, the letter said James King BSc. Sounds weird but I never see that written anywhere. It was nice ha ha! OU definitely worth it for the challenge and degrees useful or not. It's great to test yourself and a few letters after your name is always nice
     
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