Open University Degree and working full-time


New Member
Hello everyone!
I'm 32 years old and want to study for a BA Hons in Graphic Design with the Open College of the Arts (OCA).
I am currently self employed in another creative field but want to change careers and do something I am interested in and get some solid qualifications.

My question is has anyone with a mortgage/bills studied on this course with OCA before and how have they found juggling working full-time to pay 'grown up' bills whilst studying for a Degree?
How many hours a day do you need to put aside to focus on the Degree?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


I started out doing a Design degree with the Open University, while also working about 38 hours a week in retail. It was hard and my grades started to suffer. When you're working full time, trying to earn a degree and have a social life, it can take it's toll. If you're a total novice, even getting to grips with certain software can be time consuming. It isn't something that can happen over night. You have to put the hours in.

I asked for my hours to be dropped to 22 a week, that made it a little easier. In the end, the course I realised the course Iwas doing wasn't for me. I learn much better by physically being taught and attending a class with others (of course, this might not be the case for you. You might really enjoy online courses)

In the end, I had to make a choice; continue you with dead end retail jobs, or do something I really care about so I quit my job and enrolled at my local Uni full time. The reason I didn't do that to begin with was because I was worried about money. Luckily, I got enough student finance to manage, and I was living at home so I wasn't having to pay rent/mortgages.

Personally, I would choose one or the other. Full time work, or full time Uni. Ring student finance and find out what you'd be entitled to; because you aren't living at home, you're usually entitled to more money. However, if you're also working, you might be entitled to less. It's swings and roundabouts really. So maybe it would be better for you to leave work?

I guess it's all about what your priority is. Is a career in design really important to you? If so, there could be sacrifices you have to make to support yourself through it.

This is just my experience and opinions obviously. I think the best thing you can do is contact student finance (assuming you're in the UK) and talk about your options. As far as I'm aware, students who attend the Open University/College arent entitled to any maintenance allowance.

Hope this helps and good luck!

(Also, with the Open University, you are sometimes expected to attend actual classes. The one's I was supposed to go to were in Leeds; quite a distance from where I live and I couldn't drive at the time, so if you can't travel, that could be an issue)