The benefits of studying with open distance learning

My own graduation from the Open University
My own graduation from the Open University

Why I prefer distance learning

I originally did the traditional route, straight into university after leaving secondary school at 18, 3 years completing a degree and getting into some serious student debt, while getting drunk and staying up until 4 or 5am completing assignments that were mostly incoherent. How I passed, I'll never know, but I came out of that course with a 2:2 in Health Sciences for Complementary Medicine from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. However, I have since undertaken a second degree in Business Studies and a Masters in Science (from the Open University UK), and the way these courses are run is very different from my first degree. Here are my key reasons for taking a distance learning degree!

Studying at home? Ingenious invention!!!

I have lost count of the amount of people who have said to me 'I didn't think I could do a degree until I came to the OU'. Many of the reasons are very well justified; quite often life can get in the way of everything, whether it be work, bills, kids, finances or simply not having the right grades. But many of these obstacles to learning have simply disappeared thanks to the Open University.

The Open University is the only UK university that is able to offer degrees to students who study at home, yet are fully supported in their study by tutors who can be contacted at any time (within reason, of course!). They have no entry requirements for most of their undergraduate degrees, which means that people who would otherwise miss out on higher education can access this and get better career prospects. And although the courses have deadlines and a definite timeline, when you study is, quite simply, up to you.

Another very valuable group of students supported well by distance learning is disabled students. Many have conditions, disabilities or additional needs which means thay cannot attend resdiential university or daily lectures at a local establishment. Distance learning has opened up a whole new set of opportunities for these students to develop themselves and establish contacts they would otherwise never have been in touch with. The forums provide an area for discussion about courses and study, but there are also 'social forums' where students can just chat about their day or what's on TV. The possibilities are endless!

No easy cop-out!!

 Just so you know, an OU degree is not just an easy route. Many people ask if they can complete the degree on their own timeframe. The answer is absolutely not!!! As the degrees require the same amount of work and commitment as any other UK degree, you need to be able to complete within certain timeframes. And doing that with a job and other commitments can prove to be quite difficult, so if you do decide to study via distance learning, do not assume it will be the easy and quick route to a qualification. It requires a certain amount of time commitment and dedication to complete courses by distance learning, and it is not a study route that is suitable for all students.

Flexibility when you need it

 Although there are certain timelines for the courses to be completed, with most of the degrees you can take a break from study if you need it. There are many times when students need this; whether this is due to a new job commitment, the birth of a baby, hospital treatment for an illness or just simply wanting a break from studying! Distance learning from most organisations that offer it gives you this flexibility and this means that you can still get a qualification even if adverse conditions affect your study.


 Admittedly, this type of study is not for everyone. But for those with the motivation and determination to succeed, distance learning is a useful and very beneficial tool. It can enhance career prospects for those who are stuck in jobs they don't like; it can provide university study for those A level students who haven't got a place at campus based uni; it can be a hobby for those who simply like studying, but most of all it is open to everyone.

Distance learning vs. on-site learning

Do you prefer study from a distance or being in daily leactures?

  • Distance learning
  • On-site learning
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Comments 3 comments

scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 5 years ago from South Wales

Good hub, saramoose. Very good info for students of all ages.

whowas 3 years ago

Hi sarahmoose,

I totally agree with this. The OU is open to students from anywhere in the world, too. As you say, it is no soft option but it does keep the doorways of education open for people of all ages and in all walks of life.

Funnily enough, I recently published a hub on how to make the most of the tutor group forums. You might like to have a look - as someone else with experience of these things, I'd certainly value your feedback.

Great hub, voted up!

Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

Good Hub, I have studied with the OU as well and I also found it a really good experience with helpful tutor support and the opportunity to learn and still cover your other commitments.

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