O is for Open University.

No longer the preserve of strange Black and White TV programs in the 1970’s, the Open University has developed into a very credible alternative to bricks and mortar Universities.

University funding, and student loans, are under review at the moment, here in England. Despite being part of the United Kingdom, which is a bit of an oxymoron, University funding is different and significantly more expensive to the individual in England.

Student tuition fees were introduced in the late 1990’s by the New Labour Blair Government. They were originally set at about £1000 per year. That is the same as about £1300 today.

They are now £9250 per year for students starting this year. For a typical student living away from the family home a bill of £50k is not uncommon for a three year degree course.

So the student loans company was set up to provide eye watering amounts of debt to aspirational students. Given the target customer is only 18 years old, they are quite easy to fob off. You will only start to pay it off when you earn over a certain amount. You won’t notice the monthly repayment. All your mates are doing it.

Context. It is not the Universities funding the loans. They are the ones selling the courses, and taking the money. The secondary and higher colleges are part of the sales force. The Universities bear no risk here, no motivation to get the best out of their clients, no motivation to ensure their clients get the best careers, the higher earnings, to pay back the money.

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This is where I actually feel sorry for my daughter, who needs degree level qualification for her chosen ambition.

There are four options.

 

  1. Take a University place anywhere. Move there, get the loan for fees and maintenance, hopefully get a higher degree, and move into career, start paying it back.
  2. Take a local University place, as luck would have it, we are within easy commute for two Universities, get a loan for fees, hopefully get a higher degree and move into career, start paying it back.
  3. Reevaluate life goals, consider apprenticeship route to similar but potentially less rewarding career.
  4. Have a long hard look at the Open University.

 

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but, if your chosen path doesn’t not involve significant time in the lab, or playing with lots of expensive hardware, then OU is worth a look.

Your course fees for a degree with OU are just under £19000, not just under £28,000.

You still have a tutor.

You will still develop and hone critical reasoning.

You will still have to work hard

You will demonstrate much more self motivated disciple, time management and commitment.

You will demonstrate a finer sense of financial acumen.

86/100 FTSE 100 companies use OU to further train their staff.

It is a very well respected University.

Perhaps most important of all, it has the largest student body of any University. Your fellow students will be a mix from all age and social groups. A much wider skills and experience base to interact with.

A common complaint is that it’s too hard. Shall we think about that? If that is a common view, how does your OU degree look to an employer? Determined, strong, committed, motivated, ambitious, hard working, intelligent.

Are we really encouraging adults into starting in the workplace with a £50k mill stone hanging over them?

Is the three more years in school really worth an extra £31k in debt?

How many thirty somethings are still paying for a teenagers decision?

 

It is worth a critical look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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