/ Is the OU a respected Uni?

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TheDrunkenBakers - on 21 Nov 2012
Hi all, I am thinking of doing a second degree through the OU.

My first degree is (I can hear the laughs coming now) in business but i am keen to study IT - I work in IT - via the OU as a HNC, HND and then BSC so that I dont overload myself juggling family and fun.

Has anyone done an UO degree, how does it differ and is it well respected i.e. is it sneered at by the 'red bricks' etc?
thebrookster on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Depends. It will likely never have the "kudos" of a red-brick degree, however this can outweighed by the fact an OU degree proves a high level of self-study/independent learning.

Teaching wise, they hold good repute. The OU's course materials are used in one shape or another by most Universities in the UK!!
nniff - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:


Usually, the answer is it's fine, but we recently has an incident in which the acknowledged UK expert in a certain specialist subject was rejected as an advisor on that specialist subject because his degree (done years ago and now totally irrelevant) was from the OU and the client did not recognise the OU. One of their assessment criteria was that the advisor must have a degree from a recognised institution. We got round the problem by putting in a 'qualified' front man who simply passed all the work to the person who knew what they were doing.

If you're dealing with a clueless bureaucrat there's no telling what will happen.
dissonance - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I have a OU degree and a standard degree.

Generally i have found it fairly well respected. It certainly isnt an easy option.
It can be very time consuming, depending on how quick you learn.
Edradour - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Before you commit to an OU degree I would have a look at the other universities that offer distance learning courses as they are becoming increasingly popular.

I am currently doing a distance learning Masters with Leicester University and they have a large selection. It has a considerably less onerous temporal commitment and will perhaps sidestep those who 'don't recognise' an OU degree (though this is a very curious position to take).

I underestimated the amount of work it would be and have been somewhat lucky that my main job has been relatively quiet during my time of study meaning I can study during the day some of the time. When essays are due etc it's a few hours each evening, most evenings.
Wiley Coyote - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

It's patchy. When I was on interview panels I actually gave extra credit to an OU degree simply because it demands so much more commitment and determination to stick with it and get one but others who were not quite so aware of the mechanics of the process could be quite dismissive. To me a 'normal' degree done at a standard university at age 18 or 19 seems a soft option by comparison.
Tim Chappell - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I'm a Professor at the OU, though not in IT. I would go along with what some others have said on this thread-- if anything, I think employers are often probably more impressed by OU degrees than by old-fashioned-university degrees, because any fool can show up at an o-f-u at the age of 18 and get drunk for three years*, whereas doing an OU degree takes a bit of commitment.


*WARNING: this clause may contain flippancy
tlm - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Also - with an OU degree, you really do have to perform well to get a good degree. You usually need to get over 80% in everything to end up with a first. I would say that it is a lot more rigorous than many other universities.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
>
> I'm a Professor at the OU, though not in IT. I would go along with what some others have said on this thread-- if anything, I think employers are often probably more impressed by OU degrees than by old-fashioned-university degrees, because any fool can show up at an o-f-u at the age of 18 and get drunk for three years*, whereas doing an OU degree takes a bit of commitment.
>
>
> *WARNING: this clause may contain flippancy

I can kind of agree with this from a personal perspective because my first degree was done at night school just after my first baby was birn and in a full time job so I can appreciate the committments.

Im also 1/3 through an MBA which I did on a Saturday, again whilst juggling family commitments.

Rightly or wrongly it does feel as though it would be easier if I was doing it full time.

janiejonesworld - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: it's one of the great triumphs of political correctness: everyone has to go along with the pretence that it's like a real degree but deep down nobody believes it. Why not just accept that the whole thing's second class and celebrate the fact that it's better than third class, like a technical college in some post-industrial hellhole that's rebranded itself as the new university of South Teeside or something
Ian Black - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: Doing a decent degree at OU is a lot more 'respected' than going to Uni and doing a 'Ology' degree and tossing it off because you're not much good at anything else!! IMO, of course.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to janiejonesworld:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers) it's one of the great triumphs of political correctness: everyone has to go along with the pretence that it's like a real degree but deep down nobody believes it. Why not just accept that the whole thing's second class and celebrate the fact that it's better than third class, like a technical college in some post-industrial hellhole that's rebranded itself as the new university of South Teeside or something.

You dont rate it then?

I guess by your tone that its Russell Group all the way for you then. That's not sarcasm, by the way, I'm genuinely interested.

crossdressingrodney - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to Ian Black:

Might be funny to be how you get on on, say, the Oxford biology program or the Cambridge psychology course...
janiejonesworld - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: well maybe my tone was a bit naughty but the point is a serious one. The RG lot have had the good fortune to play with most of the best raw material for a very long time so the cross bars for standards and expectations are high. Whatever result you get from them it is understood that the competition was of a high standard and duly respected. OK much complacency and shoddiness has slipped in to their syllabuses and teaching at times but i think this is being neatly trimmed by the amount of competition in the market nowadays. Certain (often technical) degrees may be done better in other institutions
The OU is an admirable institution and a real national treasure. By its very nature it does not have quite so high a mean academic quality of entrant but they are on average more motivated, mature and certain they are doing the right thing than the standard snotty nosed 18 year old. Real commitment goes in to the work and I wouldn't seek to denigrate this in any way. But the truth is that the degree cannot compete with what the academic elite of young people plucked straight from school in to the RG hothouse and taught and inspired by the leading people in their fields produce

IMHO of course ;-) Let's all play nice
Clarence - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I have a degree from a Russell Group uni (Sheffield) a PGCE from another (Nottingham) and a degree from the Open University. I would rate the degree I did with the OU as every bit as rigorous, broad and deep as the one I did at Sheffield. The sad fact is that they are looked down upon, generally by people who really have no cause to do so other than irrational prejudice. The government seem eager to kill the OU, something which I can't help stems from this kind of prejudice since the teaching/learning and student satisfaction ratings are higher than many traditional universities, including several of the Russell Group.

If you are used to study and can get time to do the reading (and there is bucketloads) then go for it. You can always stop after a module or two if it gets too much and then pick it up again later.
thermal_t - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: Wow, strange timing of your post, I have registered for the BSc Computing and IT - Software development course last night, the course starts in Feb. I've ummed and ahhed for months over this, but decided to take the plunge. Keep me informed how you get on!
JJL - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

> employers are often probably more impressed by OU degrees than by old-fashioned-university degrees

Um. No. We're not.
dissonance - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to thermal_t:

since i am feeling generous.
If you decide to do the cisco network module reserve a feck load of time for it. Most time consuming course i did.
Bob Kemp - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to janiejonesworld:
"But the truth is that the degree cannot compete with what the academic elite of young people plucked straight from school in to the RG hothouse and taught and inspired by the leading people in their fields produce"

You seem to be confusing the quality of the degree with the quality of the students and the work produced. It's also worth remembering that in many cases the OU's materials are produced by 'leading people in their fields'.
dissonance - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> You seem to be confusing the quality of the degree with the quality of the students and the work produced.

and also confusing entry criteria with exit criteria.
OU have a fairly harsh marking system a)needing high marks to stand a chance at a 1st (average uni will have 70%, OU is 85%) and b)thats for both course work and final exam since (slightly simplified) the marking system is the lower of the course work and final exam.
Tim Chappell - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> [...]
>
> Um. No. We're not.


Oh, you speak for all employers? That's interesting. Well done you!
Bob Kemp - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to dissonance:
It's not quite as hard as it seems - they just encourage markers to use a fuller range of marks than is normally the case in British universities. That's more in line with practice elsewhere in the world. But it's certainly the case that the standard of marking is high - there's more monitoring of markers and more use of second marking than is conventional in UK universities.
matthewtraver - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

After cocking up my first attempt for a degree at Cardiff University, I finished up with the OU and found it to be awesome. I really preferred the distance learning from being in an actual classroom/University atmosphere (anti-social maybe?) and enjoyed being able to pick modules at will(BSc Open). I have no idea how people perceive the OU, but it wouldn't surprise me if the red bricks sneered at it seeing as it's competition (one which the OU is winning at given the reduced fees and flexibility to study). Highly recommended by me, that's all I can say.
Wiley Coyote - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> [...]
>
> Um. No. We're not.

Um, Yes we are.

DNS on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

Um, yes - we are as well.
JJL - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I speak for a few from first hand knowledge.

If you'd said "as impressed by" I'd have had no beef, but "more impressed by OU"? No.

Why would I be *more* impressed by maths-at-OU than maths-at-Russell?
AndyE9 on 22 Nov 2012
I have been studying at the OU for over a year now , I'm working towards a degree in computing and software engineering ..

I have so far been impressed with the Ou and have been very please with the quality of the material , I have a friend who is doing a similar degree and bricks and mortal uni , and all i can say is the I'm glad to be with the Ou . .

the Ou is respected world wide and have a vast great amount of resources at there disposal more so than you might think , I would say it will really depend on what degree you are looking to take , as some are more suited to distance learning to others , and as to what type of student you are , the whole social thing didn't bother me , i was more interested in setting through my degree..

good luck .. I would say the OU is a good choice .. Andy
zebidee - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

As a person who has hired in the IT sector within a large multi-national bank, my opinion has always been:

Once you've got your A levels (or Highers in Scotland) your GCSE's (or Standard Grades in Scotland) are largely meaningless*
Once you've started a degree your A levels are largely meaningless*
Once you've got your first real** job your degree is largely meaningless***

The job ad's I put out usually say something like:
"Degree or equivalent industry experience ..."

* If your GCCS/A level/degree has a specialist aspect (e.g. foreign language) and your job requires that specialism as well as the core role then that qualification is not meaningless.
** As in: not stacking shelves.
*** Some companies (particularly American) will not promote past a certain point unless you have a degree/masters.

So if you're already working in IT I'd say do the OU degree if it interests you or if it's going to actually help you get a better job. However, employers aren't always looking for that degree in order to give you the job.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to zebidee:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
>
> As a person who has hired in the IT sector within a large multi-national bank, my opinion has always been:
>
> Once you've got your A levels (or Highers in Scotland) your GCSE's (or Standard Grades in Scotland) are largely meaningless*
> Once you've started a degree your A levels are largely meaningless*
> Once you've got your first real** job your degree is largely meaningless***
>
> The job ad's I put out usually say something like:
> "Degree or equivalent industry experience ..."
>
> * If your GCCS/A level/degree has a specialist aspect (e.g. foreign language) and your job requires that specialism as well as the core role then that qualification is not meaningless.
> ** As in: not stacking shelves.
> *** Some companies (particularly American) will not promote past a certain point unless you have a degree/masters.
>
> So if you're already working in IT I'd say do the OU degree if it interests you or if it's going to actually help you get a better job. However, employers aren't always looking for that degree in order to give you the job.

These all seem sensible points to me.

Im a sales based role at the moment - Major Account Manager - for one of the big 5 storage companies which is very well paid but do I want to be selling for the rest of my life? I dont think so and as I have an interest in IT, the degree will possibly open up oppotunities whilst keeping the grey matter exercised as well.


Durbs on 22 Nov 2012
Not sure if it counts for much, but OU always does very well in University Challenge.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Edradour - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to JJL:

Excellent point.

I suspect that much of it comes from those who have done OU degrees and feel they should be rewarded for the, undoubted, amount of effort that it takes to complete.

However, we all make our choices, and some are forced upon us, but why should we give more credence to, in this example, someone who has decided to study in their own time rather than the more traditional route after school. Or, conversely, why should employers discriminate against those who made the choice to study straight from school. Are they somehow less worthy because they didn't take 6 years to do a degree whilst juggling other commitments? No they are not.

An OU degree is a great achievement. It is not, automatically, a better achievement than normal study.
Tim Chappell - on 22 Nov 2012
I'm not aware, incidentally, of the OU being sneered at by other universities. It might go on, of course (there are some people who will sneer at anything), but I don't think there's that much snobbery around any more as between universities. I taught at Oxford early in my career, and the OU later on. You might expect Oxford to be about as snobby as it gets, but I didn't get the idea that the OU was "a big step down" or anything.

In general my impression is that the OU has a very solid reputation both in academia and in business. But I know less about business.
JoshOsh on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I'm currently doing my degree at university. I have three meals a day provided, my room cleaned each week and resources such as an extensive library. This means I can focus almost entirely on my studies. We meet with tutors once a week to discuss a topic in detail.

By contrast, someone doing an OU course may be juggling a job, running a home and looking after children. They'll need to be motivated and hard working, as well as willing to work independently. Whilst there are study advisers to help, it's not the same as being surrounded by lots of people who can help you with difficult tasks. For these reasons, I feel that the Open University should be highly regarded by employers and society. Whether it actually is, I don't know, but it seems hard work and just as valid as a degree from other universities.
AndyE9 on 22 Nov 2012
Im well into my second year , and am currently studying multiple modules and have two assessment due very soon . .

I work full time , i'm a fireman , i have two children and one on the way , I also like to train hard , and climb hard .. and I'm self funded ..

yes it is hard work , i have not been away climbing much this year where as the previous year we went away 8 times , i have to juggle my time carefully in order to keep on track.. the ou are good at providing with help and resources for this..

As for working on my own , it has never been an issue , I am part of a huge online community where we talk and argue issues out within our chosen subject and modules , I have never felt that i have been without help , and my tutors are within ease of contact .. on top of all this I attend day schools, lectures and tutorials , these are at set locations within my catchment area

I'm not going to lie , there has been time when i have felt less than motivated and would rather be out climbing , but you will find that with anything in life..

I am self funded so I don't get any financial help , this is because of my income , which is fair enough , I'm luck enough to be on the old fee structure and making it more affordable , if you are not working or on a low income then you are likely to get some type of funding ..

from my experience I don't really have anything bad to say about the ou so far it has been a good experience , tho it has been hard work ..

any question feel free Andy . .
tlm - on 22 Nov 2012
TheDrunkenBakers - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
>
> Here you go:
>
> http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/key/

Thanks.

OU doesnt feature here though.

ashaw - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: I have a couple of degrees one in outdoor ed and one in management and leisure and tourism and am part way through an M ed which I am doing distance. All of mine I have done part time and only attending the odd class as I have always been full time employed teaching. I think its niave to say that doing a degree distance learning is not worth doing. Posters are right it does demonstrate commitment. The down side is that some companies do go on the reputation of the establishment. Some unis are good at this some are good at that etc, but hey course delivery can change year on year depending upon staff changes so that can mean nothing!!
Someone mentioned about looking for degrees through other channels (different uni's etc) not a bad idea that way its badged through them and you can still boast at interview that you managed to do it PT
good luck with whatever you choose
cheers
allan
davidbeynon - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I have never interviewed anyone with an OU degree, but having known people who have studied with them and seen the quality of the teaching material I think I would take them seriously.
OwenM - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: I did an OU degree a few years ago, finished in 2006. I left school at 15, worked in the mines for a few years before reading the writing on the wall. Joined the army, had a great time climbing, skiing, jumping out of airplanes and fighting the odd war - not so great. After that I worked as a temp, driving mostly between climbing trips then in 2000 I decided I really should get some qualifications. I really enjoyed doing the course found it challenging and immensely satisfying.
Trouble was by the time I'd graduated I was 48, only ever got one interview out of it, they laughed in my face. Doing it hasn't made a blind bit of difference to my work situation but it was definitely worth doing.
Stevie A - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to thebrookster:

"Teaching wise, they hold good repute. The OU's course materials are used in one shape or another by most Universities in the UK!!"

Intrigued by this statement. Could you provide some further, verifiable, detail?
The New NickB - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Just speaking as a punter, my higher education is a mix of former Poly, Russell Group and OU. I think the OU courses I did compared well, but all were good institutions for the courses I did and that is the key thing. Judge not only on the institution, but also the course.

I think generally employers like employees, especially those a good few years in to their careers to be looking to be improving their skills and knowledge. The ability to manage an OU or other distance learning degree or other qualification along side work as a good thing.
rallymania - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

ok i'm going to throw a different spin into this :-)

IT is a broad church... what specific area do you (or do you want to) work in?

i don't have a degree (of any sort) but i have in excess of 10years IT experience. I'm in the process of upping my skills, but hadn't even considered a degree, instead i'm going for vendor quals (in my case VCP 5 and MCSA) which in conjunction with my exisiting experience should hopefully make more employable. every IT job i've ever got, has always said degree required, and yet i've still got the jobs. IF you have exisiting experience in your chosen field, a vendor certificate might be more sellable than a general IT degree.

that said... if you want to do a degree for the pure experience of it, then i know several people who've done OU courses and been very complimentary about their quality compared to their degrees from tradional uni's

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