Studying part-time - Your experiences?

Discussion in 'Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting' started by SouthLancsLad, Oct 17, 2008.

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  1. I'm aware that the Navy pays an allowance each year towards education. This is something I'm hoping to take advantage of.

    I'd like to know if anyone on RR has any experience of completing a degree part-time whilst in the RN? My Dad's studying with the Open University at the moment so I know how hard it is to fit around an average 9-5 job, how do you manage it if you have a sea draft?

    Presumably there's a high chance of being away for some exams, do organisations like the OU tend to be flexible about when you take your exam, or is it a case of fitting your courses in when you know you're going to be in the UK?

    Any other tips for studying whilst in the RN greatly appreciated.
  2. Studying with the OU is undertaken by many in the RN. They are extremely flexible - it's all about keeping your tutor (and the OU) informed. It's then up to you to fit it around your work schedule.
  3. My experience is well out of date but here goes:
    While serving at Boscombe Down I decided to take GCE O levels in Maths and English. Two GCE O levels had just become mandatory for promotion to Fleet Chief. (I didn't even get to be a CPO) These were done after work at Salisbury college, the pussers fees covered all the costs including exam costs.
    The Sqdn Leader in charge suggested that a colleague and I then do a day release course, he was extremely keen on education. We enrolled at Salisbury college for an ONC course which we completed two years later. Once again all fees were covered by the allowance.
    I was lucky, one in having a boss committed to educations, two being at a shore establishment long enough to complete the course.
    I met many during my time who were studying with the OU, some passed some didn't long distance learning is far more difficult than college attendance.
    My advice is to take advantage of any money that pusser will pay for education, use your allowance every year, education is not wasted time.
  4. I did an OU degree whilst in the mob with just over half the units done at sea. Never had a problem, you can (or at least could) get dispensation not to attend summer schools, I just picked courses without them. Personally i found the courses at sea easier to manage than when I was at home in Guzz. The OU has a system in place for you to sit exams onboard with the education officer acting as invidgilator (got a degree but can't spell!) if you are going to be deployed. I used to arrange to email assignments (TMA's) to tutors with the paper version in the post to ensure deadlines were met. If you have a course with computer marked assignments (CMA's) they have to be in on time as they are batch processed by the OU and cannot be done retrospectively. One thing that may be a problem is that the OU was moving to a lot of internet based courses. Whilst this may be a good thing if your in prison or on a merchant vessel I'm guessing web access is still pretty arse if your on a rusting grey pile of sh*te. Again pay attention to what courses you want to do. Oh finally get to your nearest education centre and find out everything and get the references and any forms that may be needed. Some onboard education officers are good, some are useless, whatever yours is like it's easier for them and you if you have done all the leg work for them. That way you know it should be sorted.

    P.S. You need (or at least used to) apply to do the course first then pay for it then claim the money back at the end. Dont know what the standard learning thing is worth now, probably still £175 a year.
  5. My sister's an English graduate and she has problems spelling. :biggrin:
  6. I managed fine with a distance learning HNC in aeronautical engineering. Most colleges understand you go away, and logistically getting assignments home is a problem.

    Up the Toffee's.
  7. the_matelot

    the_matelot War Hero Moderator


    I STRONGLY recommend that you concentrate fully on your courses and taskbooks for the first 3/4 years in the RN and start looking at personal development after that period.

    I've got an Honours Degree (BSc Hons) and 2 Diplomas of Higher Education and I managed it whilst doing defence watches onboard and whilst deployed abroad. It really is up to the individual though and it takes a LOT of determination and the realisation that sometimes you are going to have to study rather than go out on the lash with your oppos.

    Assignments are now submitted electronically and tutors are flexible when it comes to HM Forces and realise that sometimes, you will be late due to circumstances beyond your control. You can spread the cost of the courses as well however you should take note of the fact that if you earn under 18k, the Open Uni will more or less pay for your courses completely and will financially assist you until you are earning above about 24/25k.

    After 4 years service in the RN, you are entitled to (meeting the required regulations that will be explained to you) 3 'hits' of £1000 spread over 3 seperate financial years to spend on personal development that meets a minimum level laid down in the relevant documentation. If you complete 8 years service, this sum increases to £2000 spread over 3 years. In both instances, you can mix the levels (eg 1 year of £1k and 2 years of £2k) however you must contribute 20% of the cost of the course yourself. ELC's can be used also for up to 10 years after you leave the service but they become taxable then.

    Standard Learning Credits are worth £175 a year and again you have to contribute 20% of the cost as well.

    I'm looking at getting myself onto a Masters in the very near future and will use my Enhanced Learning Credits for that.

    If you don't use it, you lose it.

    You can probably tell I'm a bit passionate about this hence I've hounded about 4 oppos in the mob into doing Open Uni courses to better themselves :D
  8. Just finished an OU degree in July, took me 4 and a half years.
    The first 60 odd points were done onboard the next 300 were done shore-side (LFS).

    I sat all my exams on the base and even had time to "double up" and do 120 points (equivalent of full time study) one year. As previously said, it can be much more difficult if you are in a particularly busy part of your RN career or your unit has a high operational tempo.

    I purposely waited until I had completed BOST before I started mine. Good job really as some days I was working almost 20 hours a day!

    My advice is to plan your studies properly, work out what you want to achieve and plan accordingly. Use your PDR, it's actually a very good, and much under-used, resource.

    I submitted a claim for my SLC yesterday and yes, it's still £175 :tp:

    I've now got the bug, I'm currently studying for a Dipoma with Leicester University moving on to a Masters degree next year.

    PS. In my experience most "Education Officers" onboard ships/small units haven't got a clue about what you are entitled to or how the OU etc actually work. Do some research and get swept up before you visit them or visit one of the larger Base Education Centres for proper advice.

    Good luck.
  9. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    I've just completed the first year of an OU Law degree; all submissions were made electronically as Word documents via the OU website to the Tutor (the only difference being the final assessment, which is marked by the OU staff, not your Tutor).

    Relevant paperwork to register for Service funding can be obtained by your local Education Centre; I registered while serving overseas last year and the finances were organised without any hassle at all.

    Although monthly tutorials are organised, attendance is not compulsory (however some courses require attendance at Summer Schools, which can be taken during Service time as a 'duty trip').

    However I concur with previous comments - concentrate on enhancing your Service career first, before thinking of conducting private study.
  10. Sponsored through a degree and then a PGCE, read the current DCI's or what ever they are called in this modern age, (they were AFO's when I joined).

    Take every opportunity offered to you. Good hunting
  11. SgtP
    You have just shattered my illusion that regulators are either readers or writers :w00t:

    Anyway congratulations on achieving your law degree :thumright:
  12. Well done. Just a little food for thought; I was enrolled with Bath to do a masters by distance learning having done the first 2 modules as part of my resettlement. However, whilst it was useful given my age and experience I decided to stop. I'm presently taking a gap but doubt I will continue it, the reason being there are some professional qualifications that are probably more valuable to me furthering my career (earnings) than having a masters. So this is where my remaining ELC monies will probably go. That said having a masters isn't going to harm your c.v.
  13. I see your point, I've also done a couple of ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) qualifications whilst I was doing my degree. Next stop, some type of CIPD quals.

    I agree, it's hard to strike a balance between academic qualifications, vocational qualifications and experience.
  14. Thanks for the replies everyone, that's answered all my questions. As has been said it's probably for the best if I concentrate on getting on with my career for the next few years, but it's a weight off my mind (and my parents'!) to know it's definitely possible to fit around service life.
  15. tiddlyoggy

    tiddlyoggy War Hero Book Reviewer

    I'm halfway into sociology/psychology degree with the OU. Easy to do during shoretime, but I've had to bin 2 units at sea during my last draft. Depends what you join as, but if you're engineering and your ship is tired and f***** then so are you.

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