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Open University

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What are the advantages of OU study?Edit

  • Many Level 1 courses do not have exams.
  • Students do not have to attend tutorials (although they can be helpful).
  • The course materials are generally high quality.

Can I get into university on the basis of OU courses?Edit

Most universities seem to consider 30 points from OU courses to be equivalent to an A-level for admissions purposes. Reading University consider 60 points (usually gained from two first-year courses taken over 9 months each) as meeting their minimum entry requirements.

Alex Dowty had studied two courses with the OU when he got a place to study law at Oxford University.

A levels are known as "level 3" qualifications and OU courses are at "level 4". Anyone doing them is already working at university level. However, the content is not the same as the A level syllabus and so you need to check the content against the requirements for specific degree courses. For example, MU123 does not cover all of the A level maths syllabus, so a university maths department may not accept it in place of the A level. However, a Certificate in Mathematics comprising MU123 and MST121 would certainly cover it. A course that requires maths A level but is not dependent on it is less likely to have a problem accepting MU123.

Where can I find out about OU courses?Edit

The full OU prospectus is at

  • A-Z of Where to start courses gives a list of courses that are particularly useful for people who have done no formal study.
  • Science short courses are ten-point courses that can be taken over two or five months. Many young people find them a good place to start, particularly if they already have an interest in the subect.
  • There are other ten-point courses available in other subjects.
  • A certificate is a qualification in its own right (usually involving 60 points’ worth of study).

Admissions 16–18Edit

People between 16 and 18 should NOT need to meet any different criteria from those over 18. After the age discrimination legislation came in, the OU decided that it would be at risk of prosecution if they did not take under-18s and so they changed the lower age for entry to 16. was published in January 2009.

Admissions for under 16sEdit

A policy for the admission of applicants under the age of 18 was published in January 2009. Different OU regions apply it somewhat differently for under 16s - not all regions require a face-to-face interview. Contact your Regional Office and speak to the Young Students' Advisor, who will let you know what you need to do.

In general, they want reassurance that the student is capable of university-level study, has the discipline to complete the course, and is doing it because they want to (i.e. they are not being pushed into it by parents). The student may be asked to write something about all of this, explaining why he/she wants to do the course and how he/she will handle it.

Some regions ask the student and parent to meet OU staff - often the Young Student Advisor and perhaps a Staff Tutor in the subject. They may ask for evidence of other work. One reason given for reluctance to admit under-16s is that the OU does not want them to fail. If there is a relevant online self-test, I would suggest that the young person work through it. Then you have some ammunition to back up your claim that the young person can work at that level. The following two OU websites contain self-assessment tests for Maths and Science:

The South West (Region 3) is very helpful. One family had their children accepted (at 13.5 and 14.5 years' old) on the basis of self-assessment tests and a letter from the parent and the young person. A 14yo in Region 2 (based in Oxford) was getting the run-around. When her parent pointed out that some regions have no problems accepting under-16s, she was admitted to a ten-point course. She did six short courses by the time she was 16.

Child Benefit over 16Edit

Child benefit after 16 is usually only available with non-advanced study. OU study used to make you ineligible for Child Benefit after 16 but the rules have changed-. Full details are available on [ article on Child benefit after 16]

What about funding?Edit

The fees page on the OU website has some guidance about costs and financial support. You can pay with Tesco Clubcard vouchers.

If the young person is studying a 30-point course, ask for the financial assistance papers when you register. It is the student's income that is assessed, not the parents. The fees are paid and there is a small annual grant for books and other necessities. It is administered by the Student Loans Company but is not repayable (but you can only get up to a certain amount per year).

If the family is on benefit, it may be possible to get discretionary funding for 10-point courses.

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