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My Open University Experience

Sam Orme


Sam Orme is a graduate of The Open University in Scotland and a software engineer.

He transferred credit from his college HND (Higher National Diploma) in Computing: Software Development towards his OU degree.

Sam works at Codify, a leading bespoke software company in Aberdeen.

Like many students I dreamt of the day I would finally finish my course, gain a decent qualification and start my dream job. And like many students I was not a fan of education.

Unlike many students, I got my break early when a company called PDi Ltd contacted the college looking for a placement software student.

The college offered me up and PDi decided to take me on as a placement student during my final year of HND Computing: Software Development at Aberdeen College (now North East Scotland College).

They must have been happy with me as I was offered a full-time job at the end of my course.

However this caused me a dilemma, the job would be my “foot-in-the-door” as they say, but I also wanted to gain a degree in software development.

After some thinking and researching I decided that experience beat qualifications and accepted the offer.

After some discussions with my line manager at the time, The Open University was brought up.

Sam OrmeI wasn’t convinced I would be able to work a full-time job and study towards a degree at the same time, even spreading the course over a few years did not appeal to me.

Until I realised The Open University would take my HND and work experience into account, taking down the number of years part-time study for a degree to two. Two years of studying part-time to get a degree seemed like a good deal to me!

I sat down to figure out which course would be most suited for a software developer and came across the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Computing and IT Practice.

I managed to sign up a couple of days before the cut off date and enrolled into my first two modules (paid for by my employer!).

I received all the resources within a couple of weeks and started regularly browsing the module forums which were full of people in the same boat.

The learning materials were well-written and I particularly liked being able to study anywhere I wanted, making use of the two hours spent commuting each day.

And although I already had a lot of practical experience, modules such as Software Engineering helped me gain a better understanding of the theory behind different software architectures.

The tutors contributed on the forums and were always quick to respond to any queries I had.

The exams for my first two modules were held in Pittodrie Stadium (believe it or not!) and went well. Both of the modules I chose for my second year had a project based exam which I preferred.

The required module “The computing and IT project” was my favourite by far, it gave us the freedom to work on our own project from start to end.

After getting approval from my tutor I started work on a web-based intranet forum which would be hosted at PDi and part of a larger web application.

Users would be automatically logged in based on their Windows username and depending on their permissions they would be able to moderate the forum, create new topics and posts etc.

I had most of the details worked out but asked my tutor's advice for a few things. I didn’t get the mark I wanted for the project but I think that is mainly due to getting distracted by another personal project (Lad Points!).

I now work for Codify, a leading bespoke software company in Aberdeen, developing apps for all kinds of devices, and have inspired some of my friends to study via The Open University, hoping it provides them with a more flexible way to get a degree as well.

  • Sam Orme, pictured above left

This blog was originally published on Medium

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