The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the struggles for students attending university and how they have had to adapt to a new way of learning online from their homes. However, this method is an everyday occurrence for students who complete their degrees through the Open University.
The Open University offers students flexible part-time study, where individuals must organise their own timetables. Even though the degree that these students receive at the end of their education is the same value as a person who attends in person teaching, Open University students often feel that they are not deemed as equals.
Erin Bailey is a 19-year-old Primary Education student who is in her first year of Open University. She says she often gets asked the question “Is it a real degree?”.
Erin said: “Most people do not realise it’s the same just adapted for those who have kids, or other commitments already, or people who want to switch their careers and go back into education.”
The flexibility of open university degrees is what attracts most students, and it is often wrongly assumed that the workload is a lot less frequent and easier to complete. “It’s still a lot of work just can be done when it suits me instead of the other way round,” said Erin.
Having children and attending university can be a very tricky task, so for some the Open University offered them the perfect solution to gaining their degree but being able to stay at home to do so.
One of these people is Sarah Kenyon, 50, who completed her Social Sciences degree in 2014, through the Open University. Sarah worked at the University of Kent at the time and also had three children to take care of.
The flexibility of the course allowed her to complete her deadlines around her busy lifestyle and she even was able to retake her Maths GCSE at the same time.
“It would have been too difficult to attend a brick university, due to childcare and having to work, so the Open University gave me the opportunity to be able to study for a degree.”Sarah Kenyon
During the pandemic many have spent their days sat at home completing their work, so they have been able to get some insight on what it is like for the students who are completing their degrees through the Open University.
In a poll on social media 58% of people admitted that they originally did believe that a degree at the Open University was easier but now the majority of these people said they have a new appreciation for Open University students.
Online learning has given them an insight into what it is like to work independently at home and they can now see the similarities between the degrees.