20 Sep 2007

As British economy faces challenging times, thousands of UK consumers improve their financial know-how

More than 2,000 people have improved their financial literacy by studying the OU’s innovative course in personal finance since its inception last autumn. After an incredibly successful first two runs, the course – You and Your Money: Personal Finance in Context – is being brought back for a third presentation this November.

In light of the current focus on personal finance issues in the UK, never has the need for financial literacy been more important. Savings crises, interest rate hikes and the so-called credit-crunch mean that, more than ever before, UK consumers are recognising the need to improve their understanding of such issues and how they will be personally affected.

Commenting on the outstanding success of You and Your Money, course chair Ian Fribbance, of the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “Just a quick glimpse at this week’s front pages proves that the need for financial understanding has never been higher. Consumers need to understand how changes to our economy affect them personally and the OU’s course can deliver this knowledge.

“More than 2,000 people have already completed the course, which proves that our original promise to educate people about important financial issues, such as debt management, is working. This figure also highlights the British public’s overwhelming desire to gain a thorough grounding in financial matters as our economy faces some challenging times. Ultimately, it’s our aim for the course to better equip people to take a firm control of their own decision-making in financial matters.”

Aimed at improving the nation’s financial understanding and enabling people to pursue a more stable financial future, the course successfully attracted more than three times the predicted number of students at launch and now runs twice per year.

You and Your Money draws upon some of the most common issues affecting consumers – borrowing and debt, planning for retirement, family finances, for example – and develops practical financial skills. Importantly, the course places the study of personal finance firmly within the broader social and economic background – having an understanding of this background gives people a fuller understanding of the subject matter and better prepares them for financial planning.

The course focuses on four broad themes:
- the importance of the changing economic and social environment to personal finances;
- the relationship between individuals and households in financial matters, including couples managing their money, the financial implications of having children or caring for an elderly parent;
- the importance of change over time on income and spending plans;
- financial planning, including the use of personal balance sheets, budgeting and cashflow statements.

Personal finance planning tools are included in the course materials, which also include print, DVD-Rom and website material. A personal tutor is available to provide advice and guidance with studies.

Potential students looking for more information can visit the website, right, call 0845 300 60 90 or email

Editor’s Notes
The course fee for UK students will be £315. Financial support, dependent on household income, may be available for students across the UK. Closing date for registrations is 12 October 2007.

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