Common issues of concern

We set out below our responses to the complaints we receive regularly. We explain

  • why we may not have made the changes that some people would like
  • how we are already addressing the issue behind the complaint
  • our policy.
On this page

Fees 2012

Find out all about this topic by using Plan your study 2012 or the Fees 2012 FAQs.

Financial support

Why have I been told I am not eligible for financial support?

You will have been advised of the reason why you do not meet the eligibility criteria for financial support. Statutory Financial Support is funded by the government and the criteria for eligibility are strictly laid out in The Education (Student Support) Regulations 2009. The University must assess financial support applications in accordance with the regulations and we are audited to ensure we are compliant.

It is not possible for the University to assess a student as eligible for an award if they do not meet the eligibility criteria or can not provide the supporting evidence detailed in the financial support application form.

Why has my financial support form been returned to me?

When a financial support application has not been fully completed or additional supporting documentation is required your original form is returned to you with a letter explaining what additional information or documentation is required. 

The reason we return the original application is to ensure that all documentation remains together throughout the process which minimises the risk of information/documents going astray.  In addition, the volume of application forms we receive makes it difficult to store applications while we are waiting for additional information from a student.

Why can you not make changes to my form over the phone?

Financial Support is government statutory funding and the University has to adhere to the guidelines set out by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills when assessing applications.  The guidelines require any amendments to the financial support application to be made by the student themselves as you are required to sign the declaration on page 19 of the form regarding validity of the information provided.

My financial support application has been returned and now it is too late for me to receive funding for my module.

We recommend that you send us your application form for financial support as early as possible to ensure that there is time for further information or documentation to be returned to us if necessary. 

We aim to process applications within 20 working days but at our busiest times this is not always possible.  We will give priority to applications for modules which are near their final enrolment dates but these will be dealt with in strict order of the date they are received. 

If you send us your financial support application and it is incorrectly or not fully completed or supporting documentation has not been attached it is necessary for us to return the form to you and we can not make amendments over the telephone.

Why is my module grant paid after the module has started?

If you are awarded a module grant towards your study costs it is paid directly into your bank account by the Student Loans Company approximately 3-4 weeks after your module start date.  The reason for this is that the Student Loans Company requires confirmation that you are still registered and participating on your module at module start date before the payment can be made. 

Timescales will vary for individual students based on whether they are a new or continuing student and how near to module start date they registered on their module.

Why did it take so long for me to receive a financial support application form?

Financial support application forms are requested through the University’s computer systems and are not sent out manually unless an urgent request is made. The forms are normally sent 2nd class post although at peak periods they are sent by 1st class post.

When you reserve on your module you can complete a financial support application online. You must print the application summary sheet and send it to us by post with any supporting evidence required.

Why can I not email/fax my application to you?

Financial support is statutory funding and the University processes applications within the strict guidelines provided by the government and are audited by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. The guidelines state that we are only able to make an award for financial support on receipt of the original application form and can not accept copies of the form or the certified documents used as proof of residency.

I have a degree and my application for financial support has been declined (for students resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland only)

You are not eligible for statutory financial support if you have a higher education qualification that is equivalent to a UK degree. The Open University can offer a limited amount of discretionary support to degree holders who meet certain criteria and you will have been advised of the reason for our decision.

I have not gained enough credit points to complete my degree (for students resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland only)

To be eligible for statutory financial support, you must be able to complete your degree in no more than twice the time it would take by full-time study. That is 6 years of support for an Honours degree, 5 years of support for an Ordinary degree and 4 years of support for a Foundation degree.  Your overall progress to date will affect your eligibility for financial support. On average, students are expected to complete 60 credit points with each year of financial support and your application will be declined if you have made insufficient academic progress in your studies.

I have been offered an Open University degree but I need financial support for some additional study (for students resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland only)

You will not be eligible for any further financial support if you have enough points to qualify for your degree. If you study more than 60 credit points in an academic year, you could complete your Honours degree in less than 6 years. We will decline your application if you have enough credit points to qualify for a degree.

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UK fee eligibility

Why can’t I pay the UK fee?

The UK fee is only available for those who have ‘indefinite leave to remain in the UK’. You also need to have lived in the UK, EEA or Switzerland for at least three years before the start date of your module. There are some other circumstances that might mean you are entitled to pay the UK fee, so contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service to discuss your individual circumstances.

The criteria for UK fee eligibility are set by our funding bodies, and not by the Open University, so we cannot override them. Put simply, if you do not meet the criteria we will not receive any funding towards your module fees, which is why we are obliged to charge you the higher fee.

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Fee refund policy

I have deferred/cancelled my studies because of work commitments. Why can’t I get any money back?

If you defer/cancel with 21 days of registering for a module (or within 7 days for a Continuing Professional Development module), or any time before module start, you will receive a full refund of your module fees. This applies to all students and all payment methods with the exceptions of payments made by voucher. Any payments made using a presentation discount/discount from a previous module cannot be refunded.

If you defer/cancel your module more than 21 days after registration, please refer to Section IV of the Fee Rules (available from the Essential Documents site) which sets out the eligibility for fee refunds and/or discounts you may be entitled to. Please contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service or phone 0845 300 6090 to discuss your entitlements.

If you are a PGCE/PGDE student, please contact the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Support Centre on 01908 652564, or email pgce-centre@open.ac.uk for information on the Fee Rules relating to the PGCE qualification.

I have deferred/cancelled my module without completing a TMA or attending any tutorials. Why can’t I get a full refund?

The OU operates on a ‘pay in advance’ basis. Your module fee does not just relate to the tutorial support you receive after you start the module. It covers the cost of developing and producing the academic content of the module, the module materials and associated postage costs, the cost of contracting tutors and providing online resources to support your studies. All these costs are incurred before you start studying, and when you register you agree to become liable for your full module fee.

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Late registration

My registration documents were returned to me and I missed the registration cut-off date

We need to receive fully completed and signed registration documents and have your module fees paid, or accounted for, before you can be registered. Alternatively you can register quickly, using a credit or debit card, online from the module description, or by contacting the Student Registration and Enquiry Service or phoning 0845 300 6090.

Why do you have different cut-off dates for registration?

We try to enable as many students as possible to register when they want, and in some cases this means you can register very close to the module start date. However, your fees need to be paid or accounted for before you can register.

It takes longer to process your registration if you apply for financial support or pay your fees using OUSBA than if you are paying by credit or debit card, so the cut-off dates are earlier with these methods of payment.

I thought I was registered on a module, but I can’t get access to my module website

You may have reserved a place on the module, but you do still need to be registered by completing and returning your Registration Agreement, and making arrangements to pay your fees for your registration to be confirmed. The OU operates on a ‘pay in advance’ basis and we cannot confirm your registration on a module until your fees are paid or accounted for.

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Disability and additional requirements

I've got a disability and I need more support with my studies. What support is available to me?

There is a lot of support for students with all types of disabilities and additional requirements. You will find some useful information on Services for disabled students, or you can contact your student support team.

I need my module materials in an alternative format because I’m disabled.  Who should I contact?

Have a look at Accessible module materials or contact your student support team.

I thought I could study without disclosing my mental health condition but I’m struggling to cope.  What should I do?

Although you do not have to disclose any disability to the University, we can help you more and at the right time if you do.  The information on mental health difficulties will tell you about the support that may be available to you. If you want to let us know about your disability you may find the Meeting your needs booklet (PDF, 583KB, 54 pages) helpful - it is also available in print from your student support team.

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Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA)

Why should I continue paying my OUSBA instalments after I’ve withdrawn from the module?

The OU operates on a ‘pay in advance’ basis. Your module fee does not just relate to the tutorial support that you receive after you start the module. It also covers the cost of developing and producing the academic content of the module, the module materials and associated postage costs, the cost of contracting tutors and providing online resources to support your studies. All these costs are incurred before you start studying.

Your OUSBA credit agreement was to cover your module registration fee. If you opt to pay by OUSBA, they pay your module fee to the University so that you can register. You pay OUSBA in instalments, and you remain liable for your full module fee. If you withdraw from your module after the module start date, you remain liable to OUSBA. However, you may become entitled to a discount on another module, subject to certain conditions.

I previously had an outstanding debt with OUSBA, can I use OUSBA again to pay my module fees?

You will need to discuss your past credit history with OUSBA before you can register on any further module. Please contact OUSBA directly or by phone on 08457 697937. If you are permitted to register you can then contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service to discuss your options for registration.

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Online forums, wikis or blogs

I'm upset by some of the behaviour in a forum - what should I do?

All staff and students are subject to the OU’s computing code of conduct.  If that has been breached you might want to complain about personal abuse, offensive language, harassment, or commercial use.  

The Computing Guide has detailed information about the Online systems complaints procedure and explains who you should contact if you want to make a complaint about material in

  • a discussion forum
  • an OUSA-managed discussion forum
  • a communication from another user on an OU communication system
  • an OU hosted system
  • an audio conferencing session.

You will need to have made this initial contact before you are able to make a formal complaint.

I’ve created a forum / wiki/ blog.  Someone has breached the computing code of conduct – what should I do?

If you have created a forum, wiki or blog as part of the shared activities module, then you are responsible for all the content and will need to moderate accordingly.  If you feel a contributor has breached the computing code of conduct, then

  1. keep a copy of the text and a note about the date/time stamp for your future reference, then delete the offending text from your activity
  2. send a personal message to the contributor explaining your reasons for deleting their contribution.

If you experience a persistent breach of the code from a particular contributor or you feel the matter is of a serious nature, please contact the Student Casework Office for support and advice – see What the Student Casework Office can do for you where you will also find contact details.

What if I’m not satisfied with the response to my initial complaint about online systems?

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive you may wish to make a formal complaint. 

You should detail the nature of the complaint and reference the name, subject and date/time stamp of the message(s) or the location of the material you wish to complain about.  Referencing the location or sender, subject and time of the message is essential to allow the systems administrators to locate the offensive message(s) and take the appropriate action.

Note that systems administrators cannot accept quoted or forwarded copies of messages as evidence for a complaint.

You’ll find full details of this formal process in relation to forums on the Computing Guide - Making a formal complaint about a forum - essentially it uses the same complaints procedure that is covered fully in Complaints.

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Withdrawing from your module

I told my tutor I wanted to withdraw. Why am I still registered on my module?

It is not sufficient to tell your tutor that you want to withdraw from your module. You need to confirm your intentions to the Student Registration and Enquiry Service or by phone on 0845 300 6090 so that you can be correctly advised of your fee liability.

I have withdrawn from my module without completing a TMA or attending any tutorials. Why can’t I get a full refund?

The OU operates on a ‘pay in advance’ basis. Your module fee does not just relate to the tutorial support that you receive after you start the module. It covers the cost of developing and producing the academic content of the module, the module materials and associated postage costs, the cost of contracting tutors and providing online resources to support your studies. All these costs are incurred before you start studying and when you register you agree to become liable for your full module fee.

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Cheating

Students selling assignments on eBay

We are aware that people sell OU assignments on eBay, but unfortunately we can't always identify them from the information provided on the sale site.  If we can positively identify them as an OU student the matter is referred to the Vice Chancellor's delegate for appropriate action in accordance with the Code of Practice for Student Discipline (PDF, 99KB).  Where the student is not identifiable a message is sent to the seller via eBay, warning them that they are in breach of the University student regulations and possibly of copyright law.

Where sellers are using the OU logo we send them a message that they are in breach of copyright and eBay is also contacted with a request to remove the logo if the seller won’t.

We continue to correspond with eBay regarding the sale of assignments and we hope eventually to put a stop to this practice.  In the meantime we continue to utilise plagiarism software which is efficient in identifying parts of or entire assignments that have been reproduced from unreferenced sources, including other students' work.

The OU is currently reviewing its position regarding the sale of assignments on eBay and investigating whether there is any further action that can be taken to prevent the sale of assignments online.

Can I sell or share my TMA? 

No, it is a breach of the Open University’s Code of Practice for Student Discipline to advertise your work.  The code of practice states: SD 2.11

Selling, distributing or advertising for sale or distribution, student assignments so as to encourage or enable plagiarism, whether or not the assignments include a tutor’s marks or any other materials produced by your tutor

Action will be taken against students who breach the code of practice.

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Using a Mac or other non-Windows operating system

If you are using a non-Windows operating system (such as Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android etc.) to access your studies at the OU, you may find that you need to use specific browsers or settings to access your module material.

Accessing your module website and online tools

Your module website is central to your studies at the OU and provides you with online learning materials, which may comprise of study text, videos, audios, interactive material and ways of communicating and collaborating with other students.

Apple Mac users can access their module website using either Safari or Mozilla Firefox browsers. The minimum acceptable version of the Mac operating system is OS X v10.6. Mac users may need to use some specific settings when using some online tools within their studies. You will be able to find guidance on any of these settings within the OU Computing Guide.

A number of modules use software (mostly on CD or DVD) that runs in Windows. More recent Intel processor Macs can use the Apple Boot Camp ‘dual booting’ software that allows you to install Windows in native mode on your Mac. There is also other software to run Windows on a Mac. You will need to talk to your computer supplier for support on using these systems.

Mobile devices mostly use operating systems that are quite different from the most common PC systems. The basic features of a module website are available to most mobile devices. However, you may find that some features do not work if you have an uncommon operating system or browser on your mobile device. Some browsers on mobile devices, notably Safari on the Apple iPad and IE 10 on Windows 8 tablets, have limited functionality that restricts some features of any website, including some teaching applications.

Submitting electronic assignments

Students can submit electronic assignments prepared using a Mac, running their preferred word processor and a standard web browser, as long as they use one of the specified document formats.

Further help and support

If you need further help, the experts on our Computing Helpdesk can help you to get the most from our computing resources and offer technical support for access to OU software and online materials.

To access FAQs on using a non-Windows operating system use the StudentHome Help Centre. For general help on choosing and using a computer for your studies and more detailed advice on using mobile devices at the OU please see the OU Computing Guide.

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