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Doors Closing At The Open University?
The Open University has always been precisely that: open.
Launched in 1969, it has seen over a million and a half students pass through its open doors, starting with or without the kind of educational qualifications most other universities require before even thinking about admitting an applicant.
Students study whenever - and wherever - they choose, supported by a network of over 7000 tutors.
The degrees and qualifications they gain are well respected throughout the UK, perhaps because they not only demonstrate an OU student's academic ability, but also their determination to prioritise their studies, showing the kind of self discipline and organisation that appeals to many employers.
But it's not just its students who benefit from the OU's open doors policy: an enormous range of learning resources are freely available to everybody on the University’s OpenLearn website.
In short, for over forty years the Open University has been an educational success story without equal in the UK.
But all that is about to change.
It's all about university fees - which, for the OU, have been up to now considerably lower than those for more traditional universities.
And that, with the option of working and earning while learning, made the Open University a very attractive and cost-effective way of obtaining a degree until now.
Since its inception, the Open University could offer its students variousvfunding arrangements, like the option to spread the cost of a course over the duration, making it easy for students to gain their desired qualifications without feeling too much of a pinch. But as of this September not only are fees increasing dramatically but also those funding arrangements are now coming to an end.
The start of the 2012-13 academic year will see the cost of an honours degree course triple to £15,000, while students will have to apply for funding not through the OU any more, but through the national student loans system.
This means that those new students already in possession of a degree, or barred from applying for student loans will have to look elsewhere for their funding.
It's expected that there will be a significant fall in new admissions to the Open University this September, as students look for alternative sources of education and training, and it may be that there will be a corresponding rise in applications for work-based training - such as apprenticeships - as a result.