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Is an Open University degree good enough?


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Is an Open University degree good enough? This is a question that comes up time and time again, by people studying with the OU, by people thinking of joining and by people who have no idea what the Open University is about.

"Will employers view an Open degree as less of an achievement, than completing a degree at a brick/red brick university?" Is another question on everyone's lips whenever the OU is mentioned.

Obviously, being an Open University student I have a biased opinion on this matter, however I think it is a very justified opinion.

The first thing I would highlight when discussing this matter is that if you attend a brick university, you probably have first class facilities at your disposal on a daily basis, be it science laboratories, art studios or sporting facilities. These are all luxuries that OU students do not enjoy. I had a bowl of tomato soup sat on my kitchen windowsill for six weeks, collecting fungal particles for an experiment I carried out in year one, much to the disgust of everyone in my flat. The OU tutors are exceptional, and the day schools are invaluable for getting to grips with things. However compare this to daily face to face lectures, and the advantage goes to the brick university hands down.

Secondly, when you attend a brick university, you attend it! The lifestyle is geared towards learning, you eat and sleep with you fellow students, you are surrounded by education. With the OU you have to create that atmosphere wherever you can, you have to shape your living space to become a learning area, despite half the family eating their breakfast on your desk/breakfast table. Your long suffering family have to become your fellow students despite having no interest in quadratic equations, especially my eight-month old (although I think we share the same understanding of them). Ask yourself how many science students at Cambridge University have to drop their kids off at school before they can have a few hours of studying?

My point is that studying at the OU requires so much more than just a good brain for your subject. The organisational skills, the self discipline required to pick up those books when nothing is going in, the determination to push yourself to the very limits, are skills that I'm not sure are needed for other universities, but are essential for OU study.

But after all this we come out of the other end with the same rolled up piece of paper. We just have to take the long and windy road to it.

So if an employer, or anyone for that matter, thinks less of you for having an OU degree - they obviously had the easy ride!

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