OU is affordable

June 20, 2003

Two comments in Richard Jenkins' review of our introductory sociology coursebooks (Books, THES , June 6) may mislead readers. The Open University preserves "levels of student-centredness that are increasingly rare elsewhere" not by chance but by mission.

Since its inception in 1970, the OU has worked to use all its media in student-centred ways. Similarly, to say that "an OU degree is a relatively expensive qualification" ignores the rough parity between OU course fees - most of which are below £500 for 60 points - and the current fee levels in face-to-face programmes. Since most OU students have far lower additional living costs than students at residential universities, it is hard to see how we can be relatively expensive.

In practice, the OU's combination of high quality and affordable cost is attracting increasing numbers of 18 to 21-year-olds, even though we do not actively seek to recruit students aged under 25.

Philip Sarre
Dean of social sciences
The Open University

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