Pop up to your local AEC, have a chat with one of the ETS people. Try beforehand to have an idea of what you want your degree/diploma/cert etc, to be in and discuss it with them.
It helps them to help you, if you know what you're after, but if you are unsure, they'll give you some pointers. Give them a call and pop round for a brew and a chat. They've got lots of time for you, straight up. I haven't met one yet who isn't interested in helping guys/gals get on!
You'll get some sound advice from the 'edumicators', after all......they're all graduates themselves and a good few are LE's, so have came up through the long slog process and will know where you're coming from (that's if you're not already commissioned). The Reg officers are equally as good, I'm not missing them out.
If you are advised that you need to do some work beforehand, don't be put off. It's good to do some just to get you into the 'mind set' for studying. Your foundation year will sort you out on that front as well.
An added bonus is that they will also provide you with the correct advice on funding, claims, etc.
The very best advice which I can personally give, is to think carefully about what it is you want to do, what do you intend to do with it and most of all, consider if is it something that you will enjoy, as you're going to be stuck with it for up to six years.
You may already have qualifications for which the OU may give credit, which will cut down your time.
I've a very sound idea on what to do, it is a Degree in History, mainly because I really enjoy the subject and I already have a HND in geeky IT Subjects, plus commerical IT qualification.
My logic is therefore to do a Degree in something I enjoy and am relaxed in, having done HND is IS/IT the subject is dry and pushing oneself on an evening to study for a dry subject I think would be harder.
I also have no access to any edumacators being based on the edge of the world, so any advice on claims etc would be of great help.
BS - recommend the web site as posted above, or fill in one of the OU adverts in the papers to get the prospectuses and course information. OU degree courses start in Feb, so you need to apply soon otherwise they might say 'full'. As a first timer with the OU they will recommend that you do one of their 'foundation' courses first: useful if you've not studied for a while, or never done distance learning, but a drag if you're comfortable with history and think that you will get credit points from previous study.
Finished my OU history degree last year - good fun and its much more interesting than IS/IT!! System will allow you your SLC towards fees (payable after the course), will pay for any Summer School, and will also give you a week's extra leave for summer school (plus T&S to get there!). OU provide tutor support, with quite a lot available for first level students, and have arrangements to support BFPO addresses (eg, dedicated tutors for those deployed; visiting tutors for Germany & Cyprus, etc).
You may have an OU 'Centre' locally - worth dropping in to see them if there is one (look in the phone book or their web site).
Just to add to what has been said, I haven't studied with the OU, but have justed finished an MBA, which has eaten up almost all of my free time in the last 2 years.
The biggest challenge will be managing time, and that is something to think about when you have essays to write, a dissertation to finish, and exams to sit and revise for.
It might be worth doing a time-plan of your week and see how much free time you have, and then taking 6-8 hours out of that in 2 or 3 slots in the week. If you can plan that out then you will have the time you need to study, if you can't find 6-8 hours then you might find completing the course a bit of a struggle.
If you can find the time to do the OU then do it.
As previously mentioned you will have certain pre learned qualifications that could give you degree points already. (skills transfer)
One word of advice, dont jump in at the high end, a lot of OU learning is based on what you have already done, including learning how to write the way the OU expects.
When applying for a course the OU will give you guidance on previous learning such as books you can buy as study guides.
The study guides will show you how to allocate time to studying, plus some of the skills that you may be rusty on.
The guide will cover the subject you want to partake in, English, Maths, Science, Computes, History, etc.
Pick the study guide advised to you and spend the next 6 weeks or so building on their advice, it will set you up well prior to an OU course.
I know I have been there, Its worth the post course study, just to get into the OU way of thinking.
Dunno if this is a daft question... but is it possible to take your OU studies on ops (such as Telic)? Just with the current operational tempo it looks like a bit of a nightmare finding the available op-free years to do the studying.