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I'm currently going into second year at University, and must admit that I'm loving it! I'm actually the geeky sort who enjoys it for the academic side of things and not the night-life, and I can even endure getting up at 6.30 every morning to make it in for 9am classes, but I often find myself wondering if all it is at the end of the day is just 4 very expensive years of fun and enjoyment. My sister is 4 years my senior, so graduated in the summer of last year. She was initially planning on studying English, but eventually ended up doing her degree in Philosophy. I was planning on doing an Archaeology degree, but have found that I enjoy Classics and think I would rather take that to Honours instead. Certainly, if my sister and I had been students 40 years ago we wouldn't have faced any difficulties. Although Classics and Philosophy aren't exactly practical degrees that have immediate application in the working world, we'd still have shown that we were hard working, dedicated and were not afraid to put our grey matter into gear. However, as it stands, I seriously worry that persuing a Classics degree might lead to me having trouble finding a job. There's so many Universities popping up these days and so much pressure on school pupils to attend Uni that I feel the name of a degree is almost worthless now. I think this is totally pointless. Some newer Universities take pupils with fairly low grades, and I think this is almost counter-productive. There is also a lot of very specific courses popping up, especially in the newer Universities which I also think can be a bad thing. It often leaves students with a degree that is so specialised that they've boxed themselves in and find it hard to get a job. When I left school, all but a handful of my friends went to
5;niversity. Most of them weren't interested in it, but felt pressurised into it. I certainly felt myself that I was destined to end up on the employmen t scrapheap if I didn't go to Uni, although I always did enjoy education anyway, so I was quite happy going to study for 4 more years. However, not all people are academic. Some people would prefer to learn a practical skill at a college, but I feel like this is often disregarded as an option by school teachers and career advisors. One of my friends was advised to go to University (like we all were), but decided on studying photography at college, and she is far happier doing that than she ever would've been at Uni. I feel the government wants as many people to attain a degree as possible, without considering that many of these people would be better suited (and would much rather) be trained or educated in a specific skill, craft or occupation, rather than have their noses stuck in a book. Of course, the financial situation concerning students is also getting out of hand. Most students in Scotland get their fees paid for them by SAAS, but now the 'Graduate Endowment Fee' has been introduced and we are expected to pay roughly half of our fees back after we graduate. Personally, I feel like this is just a deferred tuition fee. The thing that angered me most about it was that this new fee wasn't made paricularly common knowledge. As I said, my big sister had graduated from Uni and hadn't had to pay the fee because it hadn't been introduced when she was studying, so I certainly didn't expect to have to pay it. I only stumbled across it by accident, and I'm glad I did otherwise I wouldn't have been remotely prepared for it and would've had to take out a loan to cover it. Even so, I'm having to focus on saving up
for this fee when I graduate already. I'm lucky, since my parents are very supportive of me, but some of my fellow students really have to suffer to go to University. They are on their own, and since grants are no longer available, and loans only go so far, they have to fit in work whenever possible jus t to pay for bread and board. How they can even manage to scrape passes in some classes beats me sometimes. When you add up the amount that a University education costs over the 3 or 4 years of a course, you have to ask yourself whether it's worth it. I think it is becoming increasingly counter-productive to attend University for most. It is debatable whether your degree is going to actually help you find employment. I think the situation really needs to be re-evaluated. There is so many students these days that I think the government would find it impossible to support them all, but I think it is impossible to reverse the situation they've got themselves in, and I think the problem is just going to grow. As for me, I'm just going to enjoy my time at Uni as much as possible: after all, it's expensive enough! Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
People to choose to undertake Open University (OU) courses for various reasons. Some go ‘all the way’ to a degree, and others take a course/courses, just to increase their knowledge in a particular subject. My own reason is probably peculiar, in that I worked in the same building as the OU, and used to have a look at their leaflets, on a regular basis, and this led me to finally fill in one of their forms and register. Even when I left school, I always had the ambition to return to study at some stage in my life, but the word University was not even contemplated in these thoughts, as I do not have any ‘A’ levels, and to my mind the natural progression to University is achieving ‘A’ level status first. I saw a course that interested me called ‘You, your computer and the Net’ (the OU code is T171). It was June and the course was to start in February the following year. Having read the terms and conditions, I realised that I could ‘sign up’ for the course, but still have the option of cancelling if I changed my mind. In addition, if I registered for ‘The Open University Student Budget Account’ (OUSBA) I would not have to pay until the following February, and even then I could pay in instalments if I wanted to (at quite a high interest rate though – sorry I don’t have the actual rate as I didn’t use the instalment facility, but I am sure I would be able to find it if someone really needs it) So what did I have to lose? I took the plunge and registered. It was a really strange feeling when I walked across the corridor and handed my form in. At the time, I always thought that before the course started, I would change my mind and cancel. However, me being me, I never got around to cancelling it. In addition to the fee for the course, I had to buy 3 ‘set’ books. These cost around £40 in total (although I understand that they can be purch
ased a lot cheaper on e-Bay) The course was so enjoyable that I have registered for 2 more courses this year, one worth 30 points and one worth 10 points (the points system will all be explained later) There are many courses available from the OU, and these can all attribute towards a degree. There are also other qualifications, such as Diplomas. In the OU book entitled ‘Undergraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Degrees’ it states that in order to achieve a degree 360 points is required. However, I have recently read that the points required have been lowered to 300 points (this is for an ordinary degree and not one with ‘frills’ on e.g. ‘honours’) As you can see from the amount of points that I am attempting, I shall still be studying for many years to come! There are three levels to the courses, 1,2, and 3. 1 being the easier and 3 the most difficult. To achieve a degree levels 2 and 3 have to be included (to my understanding). The subjects studied can be ‘tailor made’ to suit individual interests or requirements, and the category of subjects available are as follows (these categories have been taken from the OU booklet ‘Undergraduate Courses Catalogue): Developing Your Study Skills Business and Management Studies Childhood and Youth Studies Education Environment Health and Social Care Humanities Information Technology and Computing International Studies Law Mathematics Modern Languages Science Social Sciences Technology To some people these may sound a bit daunting, but looking within the categories, there are a lot of appealing subjects, such as ‘Writing for the Internet’ Unfortunately this booklet does not give the full range of courses available, however the OU website does: www.open.ac.uk/courses This site will also give full details of each individual course,
including knowledge/educational requirements. As I have stated each course is worth points, and these are normally 10,30 or 60. 30-point courses need on average 8 hours a week study time and 60 point courses inevitably need 16 hours a week study time. I am not sure if this is true of all 10-point courses, but the one I have registered for has a suggestion of 93 hours in total for the course. The 10-point course I am taking (Introducing Astronomy – S194) commenced last October, and I have been given two ‘End of Course Assignment’ (ECA) dates of 31st January 2003 and 30th April 2003. This means that I can choose, up to the last date, how long I wish to take studying the course, and which ECA I wish to take. Are there exams to sit? Generally, and to my knowledge, level 1 courses do not have exams. Instead they have ‘Tutor Marked Assignments’ (TMA’s), Computer Marked Assignments (CMA’s) and an ECA. In the course I took last year the pass mark was 40%. However, 40% had to be achieved overall on the TMA’s and then 40% also had to be achieved for the ECA, in order to pass the course (there were not any CMA’s in last years course, although they would combine with TMA’s for the first 40%). I understand that there are exams for levels 2 and 3. Most courses have tutorials, and although they are not compulsory, it is understood, from talking to other OU students, that they are extremely beneficial (although I have not been to one yet, as my course last year was specifically designed to be undertaken via the Internet). Some courses even involve a ‘Summer School’. The OU does seem like an isolated way to study, but in addition to the tutorials, for us lucky people to have access to the Internet, there are online conferences for the majority of courses. These are equivalent to ‘online classrooms’. The conferences are very beneficial. St
udents help each other, and there are also tutors who ‘pop in and out’ to answer questions. Now the crucial bit – cost: Short 10-point courses start at around £75, 30 point courses around £200 - £250 and 60 point courses up to £550 (these prices all assume that a residential school is not included, otherwise the cost will obviously be a lot more). IS IT WORTH IT? The answer is obviously ‘Yes’ if you want/need a degree or Diploma etc, and cannot attend full time at University. From my own personal view I would also say ‘yes’. For last years course the OU did not give me anything apart from a study calendar, and a list of ‘set’ books to buy to prepare for my course. They also did not suggest that I should read any of the books before the course – and having finished and passed the course, I did not need to. Therefore, I registered for ‘Introducing Astronomy’. I thought it would give me something to do in-between October and February when my next course (Open Mathematics – MU120) started. ‘Something to do in-between’?!?! A box with four books arrived as a preparatory course for MU120, which started Feb 1st this year, BEFORE anything for my Astronomy course (starting October 2002) did!!! Needless to say I would not have registered for the Astronomy course if I had known. However my ‘Astronomy Box’ arrived a few days later, and I must admit that I think it was worth £75. WHY? Astronomy has never been one of my major interests – OK there are stars, but they all look the same and I can never find constellations as others can. On reading the course specification, and wanting some day to look up into the sky, point confidently and say “that’s ‘the plough’ etc” I decided that to register. I was sent two books, a videotape and a planisphere (a gadget that shows the p
osition of the stars at any given time). As I see it, if I wanted to learn about Astronomy, then I would probably spend a lot of money buying books/magazines that probably would not start me at the beginning of the subject, whereas the OU material that I received did. As I have stated it is a 10-point course, and does not make a huge impact into the required points for a degree. Therefore, even if I do not complete the ECA and gain the 10 points, I will know that I have learnt something (yes I can identify Orion within the night sky, and no I had never heard of Orion before!) and still have the books as a reference for the future. WHEN DO THE COURSES START? 30 and 60 point courses mainly start in February and end in October. The short 10 point course are run 3 – 4 times a year, and carry on between October and February. In conclusion, I am now the proud owner of 30 points towards a University degree, and for those who would like to further their education, or even their interests or hobby, the OU short courses are an excellent way to start. Personally, I will be taking a few more of these short courses – they have recently introduced a few writing short courses, including writing about family history. For those who like me would like to study, but have no wish to attend a classroom – take the plunge and register. Register at the right time i.e. a few months before the course starts, and you will have sufficient time to think about whether or not it was the right decision. Even if you start the course, as a ‘first timer’ if I remember correctly, I think that you can obtain a substantial amount (if not all) of your fees, by way of a refund, if you decide that you do not want to continue. WARNING Once you have the learning OU bug it is difficult to stop – BEWARE
After suffering a near fatel accident some ten years ago and physically fighting back to near normal , "what ever that means", i find myself in a perpectual limbow a sort of susspended amination You see my problems are no longer physical but mental I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a relativley new complaint and what a complaint it is. I constantley get reminders of my accident and i can assure you that althogh i say my i have no affection for what has turned my life upside down and inside out. I wish i copuld be normal, i have normal feelings . I want to inspire my family, want to provide like i once did, not rely on my brillent wife, one in 10 million who has now taken over the mantel of bread winner. My problems effect my confiedence and as such always cause problems when the need to have social intercourse need to take place. If you could imagine having to sit a interview for a job you know that you could do sitting on your head yet feel total fear for the social aspect of any such job causes you, and as such always take the easy way out and avoid such conflict in your life. Then you will know why in my opinion mental,/ nervous disorders are not catered for within the current system. I long for a chance to show the world and my famly that i am still worth consideration yet at the same time i need a simpathetic ear and guidance so that i can stop this ever spedding globe that is life and climbback on and stake my place in life again with a new start not only for me but for my special wife and three children i call family with total pride like any other able minded individul. So if any governing body or social or medical survent may read this, yes it is a plea for help email me i have tried the usual chanells ie doc etc but there always seems to be a barrier. I hope that others can relate to this and can benefit from my comments.
Disability crept up on me in stages, taking away my ability to sustain a full-time career. One thing that hit me, once I had come to terms with being disabled, was how much empty time I had. I had always had plenty of energy and had enjoyed a fast pace of life. I realised that even if I could not be physically active, my brain wasn't slowing down and it needed exercising, so I ventured into higher education. I ended up doing classes on various locations. Each class held its own challenge. Not the subjects I chose, the challenge was finding access to the classroom. The next challenge was trying to persuade the tutors that my needs as a disabled pupil were not being met. Time and time again I had to try to get over the message that I was not trying to get 'special' treatment, only equal access to the education I had signed up for. The worst culprit was a college where I had to have two seperate interviews to be accepted on the course. On both occasions I was assured that my disability would not affect my ability to attend the course. Indeed, they assured me that they would change the venue of the course, (a room on the second floor, with stairs as the only form of access) to the ground floor so that I could attend, if I was accepted. Imagine my surprise, then, when I arrived for the first class and was directed to the second floor! It took me about 25 minutes to get to the class, so I was late, in pain, and had started off 'on the wrong foot'. I was asked, during tutorials, whether I would be better off if they moved downstairs, when I said 'yes' it was made clear that this would be quite inconvenient! Time went by, and I had decided that no matter how much they might hope I would just give up and go away, I was determined to stick it out. I used to arrive 30 minutes early, to allow plenty of time to tackle the stairs. Im
agine my pleasant surprise when they finally found a ground-floor venue for the last 4-5 weeks of the course. I really don't want to put disabled people off going for further education, it helped my self-esteem no end and I learned to become much more self-assertive. Things certainly seem to have improved lately, I think the Disability Discrimination Act has finally started to have some effect. Therefore I say, go for it! You can discover many talents you didn't know you had and you can make some good friends at the same time.