In this sponsored editorial, the Open University tells us why its courses are ideal for those in the Forces and their families. Visit www.openuniversity.co.uk/armyandyou for more information.


IT’S going to be harder than ever to slide effortlessly back into civilian life. With the global economy under attack in all continents, nobody is fully protected. Leaving the Army, Navy or RAF suddenly pitches you into a new battle. The fight for a good job.

On the bright side, the skills you’ve gained, and the experiences you’ve had provide a tremendous basis for a worthwhile career in civvy street. What they don’t give you is a free pass. The important thing is that you’re not on your own. The MoD is strongly committed to resettlement, to offering the help and tools that make sure you land on your feet when you leave. To do that, the MoD works closely with a number of organisations who can maximise your talents and help smooth the path into a job that’s probably going to feel very different to the one you’re used to. One of the best known and most respected of those organisations is The Open University.

A road well trodden

The relationship between the three services and The Open University goes back a long way and, make no mistake, it’s special. Special because The Open University – let’s call them the OU, everyone else does – lights up a clearer and more exciting career path. It doesn’t matter what rank you’ve achieved, where you’ve served, what unit or trade you’re in or what your personal interests are, the OU can build on that. Basically, the OU can make you more attractive to a civilian employer.

At the moment, more than 2,000 service personnel and their dependents are taking advantage of the special relationship between the OU and the Armed Forces. Many others who have left the forces are starting or continuing to study with the one university that suits an income-earning lifestyle.

The OU not only offers them the freedom that comes with its renowned distance learning style of study but also the benefit of choice. You’ll find a course from the OU that fits with what you’ve done before, with what your interests and talents are and with where you want to go. Take your pick from over 600 OU and Open University Business School courses and make the most of the cost, flexibility and quality advantages on offer.

“There is a huge range of courses available and suitable for service personnel enabling preparation for resettlement and the ensuing competition for jobs,” says Paul Drake, Business Development Manager at the OU.

If you’re still serving

If your eye is on where you want to be when you go back to being a civvy but you’re still in post, the sensible move is to make the most of the Ministry of Defence’s Enhanced Learning Credits scheme. This initiative promotes lifelong learning amongst members of the armed forces by granting financial support, based on length of service, towards the costs of personal or career development from approved suppliers like the OU.

The OU’s flexible distance learning format is ideal for those in the armed forces, as you’ll be able to work your studies around your shifts and postings. Studying with the OU while in the services has two purposes: to advance your service career and to prepare you for a new career in the fiercely competitive civilian jobs market.

Most of the courses taken by service personnel aren’t entirely academic in focus. They draw directly on your personal experience in the roles you have done or are doing. When they are rooted in the workplace like this, they can lead to a named qualification which is powerful evidence of your professional ability and skills.

Open road to teaching and business

For example, if you’re thinking about teaching, then studying for a BSc (Honours) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching with the OU can provide you with leadership and coaching skills that will enhance your career prospects. The OU offers a modular programme that allows flexible patterns of study which can be completed in as little as three years, which will suit those whose circumstances prevent them from taking a traditional full-time course.

For the large number of service personnel with a leadership background, the OU also offers undergraduate and postgraduate routes into a career in business.

The BA (Honours) in Business Management and our triple-accredited MBA are flexible, distance learning routes to qualifications that are respected by FTSE 100 companies such as KPMG, Rolls-Royce and Pfizer. In fact, 86 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff on OU courses.

Part of the study can be completed around service duties using resources such as books, DVDs, online tutorials and forums. Existing higher-level qualifications and experience can be used to reduce study time.

Open road to engineering success

Engineering affects almost every part of our lives, and a qualification in this field can be your passport to a huge variety of rewarding careers. Qualified engineers are in great demand globally, and are amongst the best-paid professionals. You’ll need to be imaginative and enjoy solving problems, but as a graduate engineer your broad-ranging skills and knowledge will be highly valued.

The OU’s cutting-edge engineering and technology courses enable you to explore how to design, engineer and manage situations where technology and people interact. A wide-range of undergraduate engineering qualifications means that you can choose to study just one short course or you can complete a certificate, diploma, degree or work towards a masters (and chartered status).

The career options as a professional engineer are varied; advances in technology ensure there are opportunities in areas as diverse as communications, energy, health care, manufacturing, music and transport. Or you may choose to work in a particular engineering discipline such as aerospace, chemical, civil or mechanical engineering.

Costs of the open road

We keep our fees as low as possible and offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to make study even more affordable than you might think.

OU fees for new students is £5,572 per full-time equivalent course of study (120 credits). The amount you’ll pay each year will be determined by the credits you’re studying for. A typical student studying 60 credits in a year, will pay £2,786 per year. You pay for each module separately as you study them and fees include OU course materials, tutor support, assessments, and exams.

To find out how The Open University could help you broaden your career horizons or be better equipped for civilian life, visit www.openuniversity.co.uk/armyandyou

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