British Lung Foundation
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Degree Panic

Some of you may know that I am studying for a degree with the Open University. Just opened my emails this evening to discover that under financial support rules I have to complete within 6 years. At my current level of study it is going to take 7 years (Completed 3 years), if I don't complete with 6 years they will take my financial support away from me. I am completing the modules in order and within each 9 month period that I do them, I am comfortable working at this pace because (and I usually do) I generally experience lengthy periods when I am not able to study to the health issues, and know that when I recover I can catch up. If I intensify my studies and fall ill there is no way I will be able to catch up. Going to speak to the financial and learner support tomorrow but really worried that they won't understand. Feel yet another lengthy bout of form filling and medical evidence suppliant coming on, they already know I am disabled student, with a complete DSA assessment that they have access too :(

8 Replies

Hi Dax,

Thank you for the info and that is disturbing for you too.

I have looked into the Open U a few times, with an interest in doing a degree course, but, the prices did not look inexpensive at all, I mean, especially if a person is carrying the course out, or most of it, off campus/at home, I then wondered why so they charge so much money.

So I cannot say much about the organisation at all, only, I would have thought they'd be understanding towards people such as you.

Can't say what the cleverest way is, to get the extra time, you do need to get to talk to those who actually decide on it and not go through an array of people who actually have nothing to do with it, because as things go these days, it's a wonder if you can even get a real person on the telephone before going through a whole lot of press this and press thats, so you do not want to gt some kin of unknowledgeable call centre operator, or anyone like that. I'd keep most of it in your hat until you get to the actual people you need to speak to.

Then again, I'm trying now to think what I would do, sometimes letters work in that they leave, if well-written, less room for an individual to react discriminatively towards you, and you then get to explain things properly whereas, in an actual conversation, on the telephone, people often forget what it is that they needed to say or get across, or they just do not manage to say it properly, this is because of how you feel right then or how the person you are talking to is, I mean they may get interrupted, also be about to take a break or they may simply be not the best person to be speaking to.

I think then I'd go for the letter, and then the personal discussion by phone,


Good advcie, TJohn. Daxiemad, don't let them bully you. Many students get "extensions" to their time limits for all sorts of trivial reasons. One I knew was granted an extension of 1 week because she caught a cold three days before the work was due in (6 MONTHS AFTER THE WORK WAS ALLOCATED). Good luck.


Hi AuntMary,

Yes, it's these things that I find very disturbing for people who are ill, to have this extra unnecessary worry, it's non-productive, as instead of getting stuck in, and enjoying what you are doing, you end up, potentially, living on your nerves, with worries about money.

What you have shared sounds very good and show that there must be hope, I mean 3 years is a long time already, some courses only last 2, or 3 and 4 is often a full course, except for in medicine, law perhaps, etc.


TJohn the pricing structure as changed under new government ruling. Because I started under the old system and don't work I get financial support, under the old pricing structure modules were around £900 mark. Due to originally starting under the old financial system I have to complete within a certain time frame. If I cannot complete I have to go onto the new pricing structure where students will have to pay between two and half and five thousand pounds per module. Only a limited amount of people will be allowed financial support (about 1500 applicants) the rest are expected to get student loans which they repay when they enter work. Something I will never do unfortunately. The government hasn't thought about those wishing to study degrees for personal development (like myself) but unable to work and how they will fund education. Under the old system OU Students were funded if they had only up to a certain level of income. Under the new system students like myself have the potential to find themselves with debts of up to £20,000 and never be able to pay them back. Okay under the new system until they have an income of £21,000 they won't be expected to pay them back either. But I don't want a debt I cannot repay!


Hello Dax,

I see, yes the prices are saw were simply more or less astronomical.

What I will say, is not to mention your idea that you will never be able to work, as these days things have changed and though I know not what course it is you are following, many a thing can be created independently, as a way to earn a living, I mean like working online with the skills you have to offer, no longer is it necessary to have need of office with all of those overheads, so many people are simply selling stuff from home now, ranging from tools to clothing, to toys to their skills like offering advice, you name it, it's all going on, online, simply because people are online ''en-masse'''and are buying and paying for stuff online too, I know that for sure as I do it myself.

However, I totally understand what you mean when you talk about the benefits for person on a personal development level, so where we would like to imagine we are part of a caring inclusive society, I wonder then, in line with what you said about changing governments and changing policies, if we are really part of a truly inclusive caring society, if when a new government arrives, they can do away with policies and things in place meant and designed to be supports within society, and the reason they are then changing these things, is to try to make themselves look good by filling one hole with what they dug up out of another; so they pretend they are solving something financially by robbing Peter to pay Paul.

And it is not limited to a single government from any of the parties, Labour came in and never stopped going on about how all of the problems were all caused by the conservatives, then the Conservatives came in and did exactly the same thing and still are doing that.


Tjohn I am specialising in an area of social sciences, social policy and criminology, much of what I have already studied has been about inequality, and exclusion. I hope to use it in the voluntary sector perhaps, some of my fellow students though are finding it damn on impossible to find voluntary opportunities in my area. Unable to see how what I am learning can be used purely online. I ended up on this path by accident, had an interest in spatial design for which I have a HNC in, did my final assignment in that qualification in building design and influence of people's behaviour. Some years later talking to another online forum I was directed to the OU. I would hate to give up, have got so much out of it, made wonderful new friends, learnt to look at things in different ways and be more excepting of new ideas. My whole world has been opened up due to study. Don't get me started on exclusion but throughout history and across the world it exists and there are some theorists who believe it is a good thing. Bloody hell back in OU Mode.


Oh I see, funny how I happened exactly upon that topic then isn't it.

I'm editing a series at the moment on something like it, and that involves a series of interviews to be published in a book and funnily enough it also has to do with spatial planning and the effects of it through history up to this present day.

I'm sure you'll succeed Dax, and I'm sure you'll find a way to use it too.

There are enough clients in need of your expertise.

You'll be able to do something in the developmental and aid areas.


I did a comedy sketch of about 2 mins long, on an interview....( it happened for real but its my take on it) Would you give me the credits for it? I do some comedy writing for my club magazines and such like.


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