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Student Charter and Essential Documents

Darren Gray

The Open University’s Student Charter describes the ways in which the OU community works together to allow our student members to achieve their full potential. The Student Charter’s values are set out in 4 Principles – and you can see one of these Principles brought to life in the student story below.

Principle 3: We share the responsibility for learning

As student members of the community, we use the information, advice, guidance and services that are provided to support our learning and achieve our career goals.

Darren's story

Image of Darren GrayI always felt I had the potential to do a degree and wanted to get into programming; I thought about a Microsoft qualification but I always ended up looking towards The Open University which seemed to fit better around what I wanted to do, which was study and keep working. So I decided to do a Computing and ICT degree with the OU, which my employers sponsored. Then, even while studying, my career started progressing faster. I was picking things up on the course I could use at work.

Studying was a challenge. I would get home from work and start studying, I tried to squeeze in some at work or sitting in my car, I would turn down evenings out and my wife went on holiday without me because I had to stay and revise. It was a sacrifice but I had fantastic support from my wife and my parents too.

There are some fantastic OU tutors out there. One of them put his sessions online in a virtual classroom where you could talk to each other and draw on the whiteboard – fantastic!

Some people might think an OU degree is the easy option. It is fantastic that anyone can have a go with no formal criteria or previous qualifications. You can fulfil your potential without the snobbery that you didn’t get this A level or that GCSE.

It is hard work, when you are studying, but all that hard work is rewarded with your graduation ceremony and even before that when you get your assignments back. In one level 3 exam I came in the top 3% of the year getting a mark of 94% and I felt, ‘so I’m not stupid, I have done this myself’.

The OU has been one of the best experiences of my life. Some of us might not choose the right path at age 16 or 17, it's difficult to choose what you want to learn for the next few years without trying it first. You take a few jobs and decide to work rather than learn, giving you time to find out what really interests you.

Some people might think it is too late to get a degree but the OU is there to correct mistakes you might have made in life.