Apples and pears

March 30, 2017

Student experience is undeniably important, but comparing full-time campus-based learning to distance learning is like comparing apples and pears.

As we saw in the recent Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2017, trying to compare the two is impossible. This survey is fitting The Open University – a large, part-time distance-learning establishment – into a template designed for “full-time UK-based undergraduates” at face-to-face universities. The student experience and the expectations of full-time undergraduates on three-year, full-time courses is very different from that of part-time distance students balancing six years of study with work and family life.

More than 2 million students have studied with the OU since its establishment, and today we have in excess of 170,000 students who vary greatly in age and demographic. To try to suggest what the OU experience is like from a mere 54 students aged under 30 is highly misrepresentative. The OU study experience is much more than what the survey is evidencing.

As the OU approaches its 50th anniversary, we are more than ever putting students at the heart of everything we are doing and striving to ensure that our students’ experience is even more exceptional and fits with their needs.

Steve Hill
External engagement director
The Open University


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