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The Leeds summer school with Professor Ian Gass was a highlight of my OU studies. It has made my...

1972 - Study begins

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Pam Gillham
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I actually started to study towards the end of 1971 having borrowed some notes from another student. I was expecting my first baby, so I needed to get ahead.

My work was with the BBC in a variety of jobs, including producing and broadcasting. Most of my colleagues had degrees and I felt the need to catch up or maybe "match up." Either way, it proved to be an enriching experience starting with the A100 Humanities course. The very first thing was a course in Logic - a good brain stretcher.

I carried on studying the Humanities, along with the obligatory foundation course from another faculty - Social Sciences D100. I have to say that some of the jargon in D100 was irritating, but I finished the course and turned with some relief to Renaissance and Reformation, followed by the Age of Revolutions, The Nineteenth Century Novel and finally Drama. I had two children and had to fit studies around looking after the family.

My husband was extremely supportive which made me determined to get my degree. At times this meant staying up until 2 o'clock at night to finish an essay, and of course it all had to be done by hand as email and personal computers were not available.

I remember one very trying unit in the Social Sciences where I had to plan a Turkish railway route without taking account of hills and rivers etc. It seemed a pointless exercise. Exasperated, and late at night, I hurled my book into the fire, rescued it again and went to bed. This was a low point, but for most of the time the learning journey was a great joy.

I enjoyed the arts, literature, music, history, drama and felt greatly enriched by the wonderful course books produced by the OU. Inevitably, family pressures meant that time for study was limited and I finally gained a 2.2 degree. I will always be grateful to the founding fathers of the OU (Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee) What an opportunity for those of us who missed the boat at 18, and of course in the 70s very few people had the chance to go to university until the start of the OU.

What did I do later? I had my own programme on local radio, and later gained another qualification as a counsellor with Relate. The OU gave me the confidence to know I could learn, and enhanced my ability to think and analyse - a great gift for someone who failed the 11 plus!