The Open University' been around since the 1970s, but what it offers I still fresh innovative and radically different to what the other universities offer. It can offer you a real chance to get a degree if you cannot follow a more traditional route.

When we're talking about the Open University, everything you think you know about traditional university doesn't apply anymore. The Open University is a distance learning university, which means you don't go to lectures. There are no fixed times, and you don't have to move away from home. You have set assignments due, activities to do, videos to watch, podcasts to listen to, but you can do all of these in your own time. You can do them when the kids are napping, when you're on the bus, when you're on your lunch break, whenever you can find a spare bit of time. You'll get sent a pack of books, CDs, DVDs, in the post when you start the course, so you don't have to rely on a reliable internet connection. But you can if you want to download all the videos onto an app on your phone or tablet so you can take them around with you in your pocket. They're there ready and waiting if you happen to find yourself with some spare time to study. This means if you have other responsibilities if you have other adults or children that you need to care for if you need to work full-time or you need to work part-time, or you want to start your career straight away if you're going to get the work experience but still want to get that degree. You can study when it suits you. 

The Open University is one of the most prominent universities in the world, but you may only infrequently have interactions with other students. And that's only if you don't want to. They have a massive online community that is there to support you. You have a personal tutor who is going to be available to you via phone, via email, and in possibly in the chat room as well. Courses start at different points throughout the year, so February, April, and October. And the application deadline for these courses is generally about a month, six weeks beforehand. So you don't have the whole long drawn out UCAS application process that other university students have to go through. Applications aren't made by UCAS. They're done directly to the university. And when you sign up you can pick which modules you want to do straight away. So you've got a little bit of certainty about what your course is going to be made up from. It costs a lot less than a traditional university because you pay per module. A 30-credit module is 1,432 pounds. A 60-credit module is 2,864 pounds. Full-time study is 120 credits a year, and that's 5,728 pounds. That's a lot less than the traditional universities are charging of over 9,000 pounds a year. And you pay as you go, so you don't have to pay the whole lot up front. You can pay for your next module when you're ready to study it. 

So you can take the time, save up for the modules, and pay for them when you're prepared to study them. The majority of courses don't have any entry requirement. You can do an access course beforehand if you don't feel quite ready to jump straight into a degree-level course. This will help you if you haven't done any A-levels or it's been a really long time since you were in education. You do need to have a set level of English, so generally a C, a four or a five at GCSE. And you need to be able to use a computer to access the course content. So you need a basic level of computer competency. If your mobility or your physical or mental health means that you can't attend a traditional university, the Open University makes a huge point of being accessible as possible. They have grants and bursaries that are available to help you, and they adjust assessments and exams to suit your needs. All the course materials are available in a wide wide range of formats. Now there is a time limit for each module, but these are really achievable. You have 16 years to get enough credits to complete a full degree. They have an excellent tool on their website to help you put in what you've got to do, your commitments, and see if you can work out if you have enough time to do a degree and whether you can do it full-time, part-time, or whether you just need to do a few modules a year. They have open degrees which are fantastic things. These are completely open. You just build up enough credits to be honored with a degree. So you have to get 360 credits for a degree, and an open degree you can pick any topics that you like to study. The Open University is an excellent option for loads and loads of people. If you've got caring responsibilities, if you've got financial responsibilities, if your physical or mental health limits you in some way meaning you can't go to a traditional university. If your commitments or obligations or lack of conventional schooling implies that you don't want to apply to a conventional university, then the Open University can help you get a degree in a way that potentially you didn't think was possible.