Open University + Army Life

Discussion in 'Education and Resettlement Courses' started by moodymoddy, Jun 23, 2009.

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  1. Right guys - a little background on me. I'm nearly 17, never got on at school. I could do the work, but the environment itself used to frustrate me. To cut a long story short - I came out of education with *nothing*.

    Applied for the army at 15 and 7 months, then cancelled it after a bit of family trauma. I managed to get on an Electronics and Electrical Engineering course by impressing college staff with projects I had made myself, and my own hobbies.

    This wasn't for me, and I felt I wanted to dabble with computers. I ended up getting a job using the same technique as above - as a hardware technician. Done a certification course, but my work wouldn't allow me to sit the exam till I worked there for a set amount of time.

    I grew bored of seeing the same people, moan about their 20 years sitting at the same desks and ordering the same parts day in, day out. I grew bored of seeing countless suits on the train to work, and each one of them holding themselves up with an importance that they felt a shirt and tie gave them. (Apologies to any city workers!)

    I've left work as they took a dim view of me applying for the army. Now I'm sure I want the army. I might have left school without any certificates to my name - but despite that, I LOVE LEARNING. I did an Arabic course at the local adult education center, as I was bored with my evenings - and not happy pissing them away. I taught myself stuff about electronics and produced my own projects. I taught myself how to programme in different languages, how to take a computer to bits... I am a geek.

    Despite my technical hobbies and talents, I want to be a soldier though. I want a thrill. I want to see the world from the front. I want to make a real difference. I want to be a Infantryman.

    I understand that this isn't going to be the *best* decision for my CV (apologies to any infantrymen! I'm just comparing it to the likes of a REME/RE/RAMC bod), I do however see that this will prove discipline and many more important qualities than any certificate can.

    Whilst I am serving though, I would like to complete a OU Degree - this I feel would allow me to develop both my qualifications and my life experience. Leading me to have something when I come out - that most civilians would be hard pushed to match.

    Now, I've read the Army website - I've read the OU forces website. Unofficially/Off-the-record/Realistically; how likely would I be to succeed studying in such a way in the army? Would exercises/operational commitments/drinking sessions make it hard for such a commitment?
  2. I did mine in the 90s when the operational tempo was far lighter, but it was easy enough to find the time and both the army and the OU were extremely supportive. My muckers didn't seem to think any less of me for missing the odd night out to finish an essay. I suppose it's about finding a balance.

    One advantage is the ability to postpone a course if you're getting deployed. IIRC you've got up to 7 years to complete the necessary number of credits for your degree.

    You seem like a very motivated type, from what you've said. If you want it enough you'll get there. I understand most of the OU work can be submitted online now, which might (might!) make life easier if you're off in sandy places.
  3. Thanks for the reply! :)

    Yeah, I've been reading up on it on the OU website and it does seem as though they're quite understanding regarding deployments.

    Finding the balance is they key I expect, I have applied for the Army with the reasons in my original post - but I also expect the social aspects to be brilliant! Everyone says that the Army provides you with the best friends you'll ever have! So I guess its just knowing how much time needs to be set aside for study, but also knowing when to play!

    Thanks, I certainly like to think of myself as quite a motivated chap! I don't believe that anything is out of reach, if I'm honest. I see people everyday who waste away, and feel they can't achieve what they want. Personally, I think its all about setting goals and achieving them - and climbing the ladder one rung at a time - all the time with your eyes on whats at the top. With enough determination and enthusiasm - the sky is the limit! (heh, Young optimism? I wonder what my attitude will be like in a few years time... :p )
  4. A good mate of mine has just finished his, managing to complete two deployments during his studying, and had no real dramas. Good luck, mate!
  5. the other thing to consider is that there are many alternatives to the OU. i left school with only GCSEs, and am currently studying for a Masters with Leicester university. two years start to finish, rather than 6, and a higher qualification (MBA).

    far more attractive to me than 6 years of impacted social / family life. 2 years is do-able for anyone.

    personally i think the OU is on a declining slope now; so many universities offer better packages that i wonder how the OU survive; they get business largely through reputation - and the fact that many are not even aware there are better, cheaper, shorter alternatives.
  6. Cheers, ironrations!

    CR=CR, A masters in two years!?

    One of the reasons I am attracted to the OU is because its part time - I understand the self-discipline and motivation that will be required, but it just seems a lot easier financially as well as timescale wise. Although, 2 years for a Masters sounds very interesting, I've never heard of anything like that before!

    About the costs, I was led to believe that the OU was rather cost effective! I'll look into the alternatives, but I am still attracted to the idea of studying whilst I'm serving!

    I imagine having an OU degree earnt whilst serving could demonstrate that you are able to effectively plan your time, have self-discipline and be shown as reliable - further underlining the usual expectations that (I assume) come with a background in the forces.
  7. I'm doing OU at the moment.

    I've completed 60pts per year and obtained a BSc (Hons) in Computing and System Practice. Which is fun, because I put BSc (Hons) on all my letter heads and even my door and desk... not because I am snobby, but to wind up the Tp OC who is non-grad Lt :D

    |Not sure about smartascarrots 7 year limit. I received my degree after 8 years of study. I just asked my wife, who is doing a MEd with OU and she thinks it is 10. I checked the site, and it doesn't seem to say. Best ask them when you start study.

    I am currently adding odds and sods to my resume whilst considering a MSc in Advanced Networking (gaining a CCNP on the way). The enourmous spectrum of courses available to you through OU can allow you to make up degrees in anything you want.

    I wont say it is easy to balance the time, but OU are often sympathetic to forces, and can help out. Also if you must quit a course, if you do it early enough you get some cash back and you can use this next time.

    If you don't know already. You will receive up to £180 per year (Individual Learning Credits) to spend on courses and what not. You can't just get anyold course, but he Ed Officers at the Army Education Centre will be able to help you. Just don't part with money for your course until you know it is registered and is approved by the RAEC. The Army will meet 80% of your course costs up to £180 (you pay 20% minimum).

    You also receive three Enhanced Learning Credits. These are bit more complex and a bit more locked down. Only certain courses will allow you to claim this money, and they have to be given by a certain provider. Some adverts (in service mags like Pathfinder and Quest) will have a sign to show they are an ELC approved provider.

    ELCs are payments of up to £1000, which rises to £2000 if you serve long enough. You only get three, and any money NOT claimed for the course is wasted. THey are also valid for 10 years after you leave the Armed Forces.

    Also worth noting that should you complete Senior CLM (Sgts course) or higher, there is an option to get a honours degree in business management using your accumulated experience and a few TMAs.

    Go for the education mind, especially if you go inf. You can use OU to build up from nothing to a certificate, diploma, foundation degree to full degree with or without Honours. An Open Degree is literally a hodgepodge of courses that you have chosen... although an employer might find this hard to work out what you can do.

    You can also use your ILCs etc for other things too. I managed t get Forklift, lock smith and some carpentry courses in just for sh1ts and giggles.

    Don't be afraid to ask for courses in the military too, I can also drive C + E, A, Hazmat and managed to get on a A+ course for computer repair amongst others. (note, A+ was because of my job).

    A 22 year career will net you nearly £10,000 in education, even 5 years will get you nearly £3900.
  8. I have to disagree with CR (sorry old chap) but I think the OU is very solid orgainsation and not just because I got my degree with them. A masters in two years is possible, but is not for everyone. Education is about breadth. If I was an emplyer faced with a 21 year old (ok, CR is a little more mature - not unlike a good stilton :)) with an MBA and nothing else I would wonder. If you have an interest in say psychology the OU has a programme for you to get a named degree in it that is recognised. If like me you want to explore a wider range of topics (natural sciences in my case) you can. In 23 years service I have been studying for all bar 2 for one thing or another. Like CR I am doing a Masters now but I wouldn't recommend trying to do one straight off.

    Get yourself in and trained, the Army will identify and deal with any basic skills gaps then you can get started with the OU. Yes it is cost effective and the Army will help with costs.

    Once you are in get yourself down to your nearest Army Education Centre and talk to the Education Officers there. Book a Personal Development interview. They really do know what they are talking about. Once you start studying you will find it is addictive.

    Good luck


    I now have a rather unwelcome mental image of CR and cheese!
  9. It is also possible to use Tesco clubcard points to help pay for Open University courses. For every £10 worth of clubcard points you can get £40 to spend on undergraduate courses.

    Details are here
  10. \hmmm. a tour back in the UK suddenly got a plus point :D
  11. One of the best tips I have seen. Thanks for flagging that up.
  12. The 7 year limit is for the law course. I will say that degrees obtained through the OU are well thought of in civvy street mainly because they show motivation and commitment. One of my old bosses said as soon as he sees that someone has an OU degree he will automatically interview them, no matter what it is in. I believe there is a thread on here about the OU somewhere.
  13. I am currently approaching the end of my B.Eng (Hons) and started my valid study back in 1996 (Had a bit of a break)

    Most modules are valid for 10 years after their final presentation although some never expire (Maths courses normally because the theory stays valid)

    For example, I studied T202 (Analogue & Digital Electronics) in 1997 and the course presented for the last time in 2002; so I can count that course towards my qualification until Dec 2012.

    Hope that clarifies matters!
  14. Obviously, I'm in the Senior Service and not a pongo but I've just completed my Honours degree with the Open Uni after 5 long years so I'll insert my tuppence worth whether you want it or not :D .

    I echo everything said above (standfast the expiry dates-some courses are valid for a long time-exact durations I'm not sure of but something like 10 years (definitely for politics anyway) but don't forget that you can get funding from the Open Uni which will help offset the cost of the course. The threshold is set stupidly high (we're talking top level JNCO at least) and is something I wish I was aware of when I joined up as the only thing that prevented me from starting earlier was the cost (and err, cheap women and beer).

    I'll say one thing though-there is no better feeling than putting that graduation gown on and going up to accept your degree knowing all that hard work, missing countless run-ashores, checking the e-TMA system a dozen times a day to see if your latest result had been uploaded and opening all those bloody OU study packs was worth it-trust me on this. :thumright:

    As for the reputation of the courses, as soon as I mentioned OU to the Uni of my choice about doing Postgrad, they were MORE than happy to accept me onto the course. I went to a presentation by Pompey Uni about postgrad studies and I left it very cynical and under the impression that they were (My opinion only before anyone starts!) only awarding accredited prior learning (APL) for service personnel as it was a cheers easy way of obtaining more money and to be honest, what use is a MSc Combined Studies when the majority of it is APL?

    Each to their own but I'm wary of the credibility of a MSc/MA from a University that will allow non-graduates to commence postgrad studies when the majority of Uni's require at least a good second class honours degree at the very least. That is just my opinion and I know people will disagree with me and they're entitled to do that.

    TBH, the cost of postgrad study with the OU is excessively high and that is what's putting me off continuing my studies with them. I can get a distance learning over 2 years MSc from a respected bricks and mortar Uni for £3200 in total. After I use my first ELC, it'll only cost me £1200 over two years-bargain!
  15. i was pleasantly stunned that i was allowed to attempt a Masters without a degree. however, i had to evidence at least ten years of relevant experience (management) and also went to the bother of acquiring one of those qualifications that most people probably ignore when the email arrives on DII.

    the rather generic City & Guilds Licentiateship (in leadership / management I think) is supposedly (ha) broadly equivalent to a foundation degree, and i automatically qualified simply through being a staffy at the time. it may have had no impact on my application, or it may have been critical - no idea. but for £90 or whatever it was, well worth the money in my eyes.

    guess those work-related qualifications can be useful, so my advice is - when you get those emails about "you can apply for this qual or that qual" - weigh it up carefully before hitting "delete" :) - it certainly helped save me a few grand and several years.

    (oh by the way - ELCs are a brilliant system. as long as your course is accredited, it's quick, easy and saves a fortune!