19 Aug 2009

Open University sees surge in younger students

With students competing to secure places at traditional universities this week, The Open University is reporting a 36% increase in course registrations amongst 18- to 24- year olds, compared to this time last year.

Christina Lloyd, Head of Teaching and Learner Support at The Open University said that although 18- to 24-year old student numbers have been increasing at the OU for years, there are factors which could have driven this year’s unprecedented demand: “More young people are now choosing to stay at home and study, and continuing with their part time jobs in order to avoid the kind of debt that comes with traditional institutions and tuition fees. This year’s surge in numbers could also be due to the wider economic downturn, with more people choosing to stay in education rather than seek out job opportunities.”

The limited number of traditional university places has meant that, for some, the OU is an attractive higher education option. Alongside this, many younger people can obtain financial support. Those living with their parents and earning less than £16,510 a year can qualify to have all of their course fees waived.

“The OU can be the debt-free alternative route to a degree for many students,” continued Christina. “The cost of an OU Honours degree can vary from £3390-£4535 and last year we helped thousands of people with the cost of their studies; so for many, this is the cost-effective way of getting a high quality degree.”

Emma Pye, 21, spent two years at a conventional university and then transferred to the OU to complete her degree. She said: “It was much cheaper with the OU as I could complete my degree whilst living at home. Because I wasn’t earning, the OU paid 75% of my tuition fees, and there was a great choice of courses. I didn’t have to start my degree again from scratch. I got credit for my previous two years of study, so I was able to finish my degree in a year, studying full-time.” Emma achieved a first class honours degree and is now working in her “dream job” as a countryside management warden for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

The increase in applications comes on the back of the news that the OU has once again achieved highly in the National Student Survey satisfaction ratings, with 94% of students satisfied overall with the quality of their OU course.

Notes to editors
The Open University has seen the number of registrations for 18 – 24 year olds increase by 36% based on a snap shot of student figures on the 14th August 2008 and the 14th August 2009. (2008 – 1327, 2009 – 1810).

In 2007-8 over 41,000 OU students received financial support towards their course fees (overall figure)

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