Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Alexandra Markin
Still undecided about which school to pursue your degree at? This post outlines 8 advantages of open university.
Maybe you’re going back to school for a career change or for a promotion at your current job. Or maybe you’ve finally decided to complete your degree after years of abandoned attempts.
If this sounds like you, an open university might be your perfect option.
I can attest the advantages of open university because I’m an open university student myself.
What Is An Open University?
If you’re just starting your research on choosing an online degree program, you’ve probably come across the term “open university.”
An open university offers degree programs with low or no admission requirements. Their mission is to offer “education for all.”
Advantages Of Open University
Open university isn’t just for high school dropout or those who can’t afford traditional university. Open universities offer accredited degrees with the same caliber of instructors as a traditional university.
Studying an a open university might be the perfect choice for you if you:
- Have a family, dependents or aging parents to look after.
- Can’t commit to the timeline of getting a traditional degree in 4 years for personal reasons.
- Like the idea of flexibility to study from wherever you want.
- Are planning to go back to school as a mature student and don’t have good enough grades from your high school days.
- Work full-time and aren’t able to attend on-campus classes for a full-load of courses or even a few part-time courses.
- Prefer to learn on your own schedule and enjoy studying independently.
- Want a degree for a promotion or career change but don’t meet the entrance requirements for the traditional university you have your eye on.
If any of the above resonates with you, read on for the advantages of open university and how they can help you reach your degree goals.
1. Low Or No Entry Requirements
One of the main advantages of open university is that they have low or no entry requirements. This is also known as open admission.
So what do low or no entry requirements look like exactly?
- You’re a mature student, which means it’s been an extended period since you’ve had any formal education (including high school). For many universities this means 4 years or more.
- Your high school grades aren’t good enough to qualify for admission to a degree program at a traditional university.
- There is usually no formal test, but open universities assume you have a solid grasp of the English language (or whatever the main language of the country the institution is in).
- They assume you have basic computer skills, as open university is taught 100% online.
- You can attend at any age.
Although the above list can vary from school to school, these are what constitute low or no entry requirements at open university. Always confirm the requirements for each open university you’re considering, as well as the requirements for their specific degree programs.
The majority of open universities are accredited, meaning they are officially approved by an independent third body.
Accreditation is what makes your degree “real.”
You can confirm an open university is accredited by looking on their about us page. Accreditation is a source of pride for these institutions, so you should quickly find your answer. If you can’t find out if the university is accredited or who the accrediting body is, beware.
3. Instruction By Qualified Teachers
Just because a university has open admission doesn’t mean the caliber of their instructors is any less than a traditional university.
Open universities employ qualified teachers who will help you through the course material. Although most open universities operate by independent study (meaning you work through the material at your own pace without weekly online lectures), instructors are there to answer your questions, provide feedback on assignments and mark your quizzes and exams.
Just like any traditional university or any type of school in general, you probably won’t get through your degree without at least one bad online professor. It happens to all of us!
If you do find yourself in that situation, read the post on how to deal with a bad online professor for some valuable tips.
In my experience with open university, I’ve been really happy with the quality of the instructors.
4. 100% Online
All open universities operate by delivering the learning activities online through a course portal such as Moodle or Blackboard. This allows you to study from anywhere – your kitchen table, on vacation or from anywhere in the world.
Any physical materials such as textbooks are mailed to your home. If you don’t want a physical book, you can often find the online version instead. Trust me, you don’t want to be carrying a 4.5 pound textbook around in your carry on (I’ve done it and it wasn’t fun).
Communication with instructors is all done online as well, through either email or the messaging feature in the course platform. Instructors do have a phone number as well in case the clarification you need is better done through an actual conversation.
5. Independent Study
As mentioned above, most open universities work by independent study. You study by yourself, moving through the pre set out material at your own pace. There are no lectures to attend online at a set time each week – you’re able to access the course material at any time. At a lot of open universities, you have a set amount of time to finish the course, but there are no official deadlines for assignments and exams.
For example, the time limit to complete a Thompson Rivers University open learning course is 30 weeks (or 7.5 months).
Independent study is great for students who have other responsibilities to fit around their studies are can’t attend an in-person class each week for years on end.
However, some open universities such as The Open University in the United Kingdom do have official deadlines for assignments and exams within each course. If you need more structure, consider one of their degree programs – you can attend The Open University from anywhere in the world.
See also: Late Night Study Tips
6. No Time Limit
Unlike traditional universities that have a set duration to finish a degree (generally 4 years in Canada or the United States), an open university degree can be completed in as little as 3 years or upwards of 10 years.
It’s perfect for students who want to study full-time to get their degree completed faster. Or, if you have less time, you can do part-time studies for as long as it takes you. The only catch with taking your time is that you generally have to complete a course once every year or two if you’re enrolled in a degree program.
7. Degree Cost Is More Financially Manageable
Overall, the cost of an open university is generally cheaper than traditional university. This doesn’t mean that tuition and other fees are necessarily cheaper – it just means that the overall cost of your degree will be less than a traditional university as you don’t have the cost of commuting to class or on-campus food and accommodation.
What makes open university more financially manageable is that you pay for tuition on a course by course basis, and admission can be throughout the year. This means you’re not paying the cost of a full course load all at once. It allows you to fit you studies into your budget if you need to.
Open university is more financially manageable for two reasons:
- You pay course by course.
- No commute costs and no on-campus food or accommodation costs.
8. Student Discounts
Just because you’re doing your degree at an open university and do all your studying online doesn’t mean your aren’t eligible for student discounts!
Inquire how to apply for a student card and have it mailed to your home. You won’t always have this opportunity during your life so make the most of it!