If you've thought about studying while you're caring, you may have found it difficult to get around the fixed hours, the distances and the time involved.
The Open University’s specialised methods of teaching and our world-leading expertise in distance learning can help to overcome these difficulties, so that – even as you maintain your commitments – you can study at higher education (HE) level and get a qualification. In particular we can offer you:
- study support
- financial support
We recognise the pressures and difficulties that you might have as a carer, and know that flexibility will be important to you, to allow for good days and bad days, hospital appointments, and so on. Although within each course there are key dates to work to, we try to help you fit your studies in around the demands of your life:
- You decide how to divide up your study hours. You’ll need to set aside about 8 to 9 hours a week for a 30-credit course, 16 to 18 hours a week for a 60-credit course. But it’s up to you how you divide those hours into study sessions. You also have some flexibility in studying ahead of time if necessary, or in catching up if something unexpected happens. Some courses offer some flexibility in study patterns, so that you can do them quickly or more slowly.
- Many courses have more than one start date each year.
- You can take time out between completing one course and starting another.
And if you’re thinking of studying again after a long gap, or if you haven’t studied before, consider our very popular Access modules. These are specifically designed to offer an exam-free, highly supported and gentle introduction – or re-introduction – to studying. They cover a range of fascinating subjects, and will boost your skills, knowledge and confidence.
Support as you study
During most of your study time, you will be working on your own with our comprehensive and high-quality course materials. But you won’t be alone.
- You’ll be part of an active community of students who can be reached through online forums.
- We have a highly developed support structure. You’ll be assigned a tutor (or study adviser depending on the teaching arrangements for the course you've chosen) who will give academic and tutorial support, mark your assignments and provide helpful feedback.
- If you need help with your course, your tutor or study adviser may be able to arrange additional study sessions for you, or provide some extra tuition. And he or she may also allow extra time for assignments where necessary.
- If you’re having a difficult time, and feel that your circumstances may have affected your performance in assignments or examinations, you can follow an established system to alert the University.
- Help is at hand. As well as your tutor, you’ll be able to contact friendly staff in our regional and national centres. We provide information and advice through our advisory service, more detailed educational guidance on study issues, support and, if necessary, special arrangements for examinations.
To find out what support is available, try our online eligibility checker or speak to an adviser on 0845 300 60 90.
In addition, Carers UK provides advice on many of the financial aspects of caring, from help with council tax to help with the cost of studying.
If you’re thinking about preparing for employment bear in mind that, as an OU student, you’ll have access to our award-winning OU Careers Advisory Service website, which can help you explore career opportunities and support your search for jobs or further training.
We have produced a short leaflet for students with caring responsibilities as well as an online booklet which contains more detailed information. You can download the booklet here.