Younger students are continuing to see The Open University (OU) as an alternative to traditional university. Figures announced this week show course reservations for 2011/12 made by new students aged 25 and under increased by 18% compared to last year.
Students aged 25 and under now make up almost 17% of The Open University’s total student population, a rise of 10% from 2010, but the fastest growing group of new students reserving courses is the 18 and 19 year old whose numbers have increased by 30% compared to 2010/11. Career progression is one of the most common motivations for studying with the OU and four in ten OU graduates in this age group earn more than £20,000 within six months of graduating.
Christina Lloyd, Director of Teaching and Learner Support at The Open University said: “The landscape of higher education has undergone some dramatic changes recently. The Open University remains committed to providing high-quality, flexible and great value education for all. As testament to this our students consistently rank us in the top three institutions for quality in the National Student Survey.
“We’re seeing increasing numbers of new students aged 25 and under, however the fastest growing group is 18 and 19 year olds which have increased by 30% on this time last year. Their motivations for study are mirrored by the OU’s supported open learning model that fits studying around other commitments, which is vitally important as tuition fees rise.”
Jennifer Turl, 24, completed her degree with The Open University this year. She turned down a place at Durham University in favour of being able to combine work and study. “I was the only person in my sixth form that chose not to go away to university. Five years on I don't regret my decision one bit. I have been able to study at my own pace, while holding down a full time job and gaining valuable experience in the job market.
“I have no student debt and would consider myself far more employable than some of my counterparts fresh out of university who have struggled to find a job.
“I chose the OU because I didn't feel the university lifestyle was for me. After achieving 4A's at A Level it wasn't that I didn't have the grades or ability. I was offered a place at Durham University, which is top of the league tables for my chosen subject, geography, but I preferred the flexibility offered by the OU. It meant that I could work while studying to fund myself and avoid crippling debt. It was the best decision I ever made.”
The Open University recently announced its fee for new students in England as £5,000 per full-time equivalent study (120 credits) from 1 September 2012. The amount that students pay each year will be determined by the number of credits they are studying. For a typical student studying 60 credits in a year, the fee will be £2,500 per year.
For the first time, Government loans will be available for part-time students in England which, for many, means that they will have nothing to pay up front. Additionally, The Open University will be minimising financial barriers to study through its unique flexible payment options and financial support packages.
Most current OU students in England will be able to complete their qualifications at a price and pace consistent with their expectations when they started their course, under transitional fee arrangements.
Key facts about the OU’s younger students:
• The number of new students aged 18 and 19 making reservations for the 2011/12 academic year rose by 30% to 1,611 from 1,226 (year on year comparison as of 1st August 2011).
• 1,636 compared to 2,099 reserving places for 2010/11 (year on year comparison as of 1st August 2011).
• Three-quarters of the reservations were made by female students aged 18-19 (73% as of 1 August 2010).
• Nearly one third of the 18 and 19-year-old students who have made reservations this year are from the most deprived areas of the UK (26% as of 1 August 2011).
• The total number of students aged 25 or under is 32,139 making up 16.6% of the OU’s student population.
• Introduction to business studies was the most popular course for students under 25 in 2009/10.
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