Information regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) - updated 7 April 2020
The University is carefully monitoring guidance issued by the UK Government regarding COVID-19. We remain open and we're working hard to ensure that the majority of our services are unaffected, including registration for modules that begin in October 2020.
Our student support teams (SSTs) are now taking queries by email only until further notice. To find the right contact details for your query go to Contact the OU and choose the email option. Details about how our other services such as the library are affected are available further down this page under contacting us.
This page covers the current situation with regards to several key topics. It is currently being updated at around 4pm every weekday.
Summary of updates 7 April 2020:
- Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) - Any student submitting their final TMA for a module that finishes in April at the moment (after the first day of the month) will get a message warning it is too late. Provided you have requested an extension from your tutor you can ignore this message.
- Careers and Employability Services - If your changing circumstances have affected your life or study goals, course choice or career plans, the OU’s Careers and Employability Services staff are maintaining their full range of support. See below for more information.
- Certificates and references - We are currently unable to print and post out any qualification certificates, including replacements for any that have been lost or damaged. Qualification offers and academic reference requests may also be delayed. See below for more information.
Exams and end of module assessments (EMAs and emTMAs)
The University has cancelled face to face exams in March, April and June and reviewed arrangements for modules with EMAs and emTMAs to ensure students have the opportunity to complete their current modules.
Students due to complete an EMA, emTMA or exam before 30 June 2020 should now all have received an email detailing arrangements for their modules. Their module websites will be updated by the middle of this week.
Students who were due to sit an exam or have an end of module assessment in March or April should also all have received an email detailing their arrangements.
If you are expecting to have received an email but you haven't please check your junk folder. If you still don't see an email you should contact your Student Support Team as soon as possible.
We recognise that for some students, completing your studies may prove challenging and you may be considering your options. Our new advice pages may help you. These pages include advice about flexibility for any remaining TMA deadlines (extensions), submitting special circumstances, postponing your EMA, emTMA or remote exam or opting to pause and defer your studies until the next module presentation.
Postponing your remote exam, EMA or emTMA submission (discretionary postponement)
If you can't do your remote exam or submit any part of your EMA/emTMA due to exceptional circumstances you may be allowed to postpone to the next available opportunity. You are usually required to provide evidence to support your application, but, until further notice, for any issue related to coronavirus and occuring from 1 March 2020 no evidence will be required. When completing the application please choose the option to 'send by post' and indicate in the text box that you are applying due to reasons relating to coronavirus. You won't then be required to send in any evidence, please ignore text on the form that says it is required.
You do, however, need to apply before midnight (UK local time) on the day after your EMA/emTMA submission deadline.
To find out more and to apply go to Apply for discretionary postponementBack to top
The University will take the coronavirus pandemic into consideration for any assessment submitted after 1 March 2020. This means you do not need to tell us how the pandemic has affected your ability to complete your assignments.
You should only submit a special circumstances form if you have other extenuating circumstances, or something happened before 1 March.
For example, you may have been unwell before 1 March 2020 and either not submitted or only partially completed an assignment. Now that your exam, EMA or emTMA has been cancelled this will have a greater impact on your overall result than you expected. You therefore might want to submit details of any special circumstances that did impact on your performance for consideration.
You can submit special circumstances for any assignments up to four days after your original exam date or the submission deadline that would have applied to your EMA or emTMA. Your special circumstances will then be considered by the University when determining your overall result.
To find out more, and apply go to special circumstances - assignments.Back to top
Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs)
You can request an extension on your TMA submission date of up to 21 days without needing to provide a reason. This agreement will be in place for the foreseeable future. To apply for an extension to a TMA deadline, please contact your tutor in the first instance. If your tutor is unavailable, please email your student support team.
If you need a TMA extension beyond 21 days, that must be discussed with your tutor, or student support team in your tutor’s absence. This is because there may be other solutions to help you progress with your studies rather than opting for a very long extension.
Extensions for final TMAs (the last TMA before your EMA, emTMA or exam that was due to take place) are slightly different in that they are usually restricted to being no later than the first of the month in which your module ends. However, until further notice, you can request an extension up to the eighth day of the month in which your module ends.
To find the relevant date for your module, see the final TMA extension dates page. Please note that if you submit your final TMA after the first day of the month you will get a message warning you it is too late. Provided you have requested an extension from your tutor you can ignore this message.
TMA marking turnaround
All tutors are now being given 15 working days to mark and return assignments, rather than the usual 10 working days. You may also find that your work has been marked by someone other than your usual tutor. We are doing this, where necessary, to ensure you get your assignments back as soon as possible and to help tutors manage their workload during these challenging times.Back to top
Submitting assessments on paper
We are currently unable to handle and process paper copies of assessments. You will need to submit all TMAs, emTMAs and EMAs through the online TMA/EMA system (you can find this via your module website or on your module record page on StudentHome).
All modules are currently allowing PDF formats to be submitted. If you need to complete your assessment on paper you can scan it in using your smartphone and submit using the online TMA/EMA system.
If it is impossible for you to submit electronically, or you have recently sent in an assessment, please be assured that your paper submissions will be securely held and processed once we are able to reopen the offices. If this happens after the release of module results, we will update your result as soon as we are able.Back to top
Deferring or withdrawing from modules
We recognise that for some students, completing your studies may prove challenging and you may be considering your options. Our new advice pages for students studying module(s) ending before 30 June 2020 may help you work out the best option for you.
You can find out the final date you can defer from your module on your module record. Select your module from you your study record and then click on 'final deferral date' to find this.
If you've recently made a request to defer but would now like to continue studying, you need to contact your Student Support Team (SST) as soon as possible and ask them to cancel your deferral. Continue studying while you're waiting to hear back from them.
If you've requested to defer and still want to defer but are still receiving communications about your module, we are working through requests and will process your deferral as soon as possible.
Fee liability (undergraduate students in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or outside of the UK)
We have taken the decision to move the April 1 fee liability point to 15 April. This means that, if you decide to defer from your module on or before 15 April your fee liability will be the same as it would have been if you deferred before 1 April.
If you started your module on 1 February 2020 and defer on or before 15 April you will be liable for 25% of the module fee but may be eligible to apply that 25% as a discount against any module which starts within 13 months of your deferred module’s start date, or in cases where you intend to study your deferred module again, its next available start date if this is outside the 13 months period of validity.
If you started your module on 5 October 2019 and defer on or before 15 April you will be liable for 50% of the module fee but may be eligible to apply 25% of your module fee as a discount against any module which starts within 13 months of your deferred module’s start date, or in cases where you intend to study your deferred module again, its next available start date if this is outside the 13 months period of validity.
Please note that you must contact us to confirm your decision to defer on or before 15 April in order to be eligible. You can email your SST to do this.
Arrangements for fee liability are different for students in Scotland and postgraduate students.
More information about fee liability.Back to top
Careers and Employability Services
If your changing circumstances have affected your life or study goals, course choice or career plans, the OU’s Careers and Employability Services staff are maintaining our full range of support:
- If you need to rethink your long-term career plans and how they may affect module choices or your decision to defer, we have many online resources to help you such as Your Career Planning Guide plus forums and webinars.
- Similarly, if you need to clarify your options and potential career paths, you can still book a careers consultation over email, phone or Skype.
- If you want to know more about volunteering opportunities, you can browse the many online roles posted by a range of organisations on OpportunityHub.
The team are set up and working from home, and although we are currently managing demand well, we hope you understand if we are not always able to answer your queries within the usual five days. For the latest updates on how we are providing careers support to OU students, please see our Careers and Employability Services statement.Back to top
We understand that during this time of uncertainty trying to study may feel overwhelming. Our Help Centre has articles available on how we can support your mental health, wellbeing and welfare. This includes information on how to access our Big White Wall service which offers free, confidential online support around the clock. They also have an article about looking after yourself during the outbreak.
We have also put together some tips on balancing work, study and family, including a list of free OU resources that might be helpful to support older children's school work. We will keep updating this article with further advice and resources.
On Wednesday 18 March one of tutors ran a special online event called 'Retaining focus on study while in uncertain times'. You might find this session helpful if you're finding it difficult to concentrate. Please note however that some of the factual information will now be out of date. You can listen to the recording, as well as many other sessions designed to help you with study skills such as essay writing, on the Student Hub Live recordings page.
If you feel worried about the Coronavirus Mind has helpful information on wellbeing. Student Minds and Anxiety UK also offers resources and useful links to help alleviate concerns and worry. For information on how you can look after your mental health during this outbreak see Mental Health Foundation and Public Health England.Back to top
Certificates and references
We are not currently able to print and post out any qualification certificates, including replacements for any that have been lost or damaged. Name corrections can still be completed as usual by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be a short delay in some qualification offers being sent but the conferment of qualifications continues to run to the usual schedule.
Academic references are currently taking at least 10 working days to process. Depending on what you need, you may be able to self-serve using the request a reference tool.Back to top
Face-to-face tutorials where there is an online alternative have been cancelled until further notice.
Please check StudentHome for online events for your module.
If you are booked to attend a face-to-face event where there isn’t currently an online option, please be assured that we are reviewing the situation. Further information will be released as and when available. Please remain booked on any face-to-face event, we will contact you by email to let you know when alternative options are available.Back to top
Face-to-face residential schools have been cancelled until further notice. If you're already booked onto a face-to-face event please remain booked on so that we can contact you. If your school doesn't currently have an online option, we'll contact you by email to make alternative arrangements.
Further information will be released as and when available.Back to top
All degree ceremonies until the end of May have been cancelled:
- 21 March London
- 03 April Manchester
- 24 April Dublin
- 30 April Poole
- 16 May Milton Keynes
- 30 May Ely
If you were due to attend you should have received an email. We are working to be able to offer you another opportunity and will be in touch as soon as we can.Back to top
Reimbursement for travel to events
If you have paid for travel to an event and cannot get a refund you may be eligible for reimbursement.
Please download this form Travel reimbursement form (DOCX, 104 KB) and email it to email@example.com with your booking confirmation and evidence of being unable to get a refund. Photographs and scans of receipts or booking confirmation are acceptable.
If you want to apply for reimbursement of travel costs for any other period of time or reason, please contact your SST.
Please note we usually provide reimbursement directly into back accounts and we aim to process your application in the next 10 working days.Back to top
Registering for your next module
We want to reassure all our students that registration for your next module is open and we encourage you to enrol online. If you're already an OU student our Help Centre has information about enrolling on modules.
If you're a new student you can enrol from our online prospectus.
We are available if you want to discuss your choices, but you will need to contact us by email rather than phone.Back to top
Progress reviews with your practice tutor will take place by telephone or online, until face-to-face interaction can resume.
If you’re experiencing changes at work that will last longer than four weeks or will impact on your ability to submit any of your assignments or remain in place for longer than four weeks, you should talk to your practice tutor or the Apprentice Support Team.
If you cannot study or are due to complete work-based learning activities for an assessment, and it’s no longer possible because you are working from home, contact your tutor, your Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager, or the Apprentice Support Team to discuss your options.
You should have received an email with more details about continuing your apprenticeship. You can contact the Apprentice Support Team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org .Back to top
Physical office locations and post
While the OU remains open for business, our physical offices are now all closed. OU staff continue to work remotely to support you, but you will not be able to visit any OU Offices.
We will not be able to receive items by post until we can return to our offices. Anything already posted to us and not yet processed will be held securely. We are aware that the Student Loans Company and other funding bodies are experiencing some delays. We are monitoring the situation and will advise on what to do nearer to the next academic year.
We are also currently unable to handle and process paper copies of assessments. See the above section on Assignments for more information.Back to top
We're doing everything possible to keep our core services running. We are currently taking queries by email only with some services also offering a webchat option.
We will continue to answer queries as quickly as possible but some services are reduced:
- Student support teams (for general enquiries and specialist advice on your area of study) are available by email only. They are working from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
- Library Services are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday by email only. A Webchat service is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- The Computing and Distribution Helpdesk is available by email and webchat only 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5.00pm Friday.
- OUSBA (Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd) is operating with reduced staffing levels and there may be a delay in responding to both phone and email contact.
To find the right contact details for your query go to Contact the OU and select the email option for the appropriate contact.Back to top Back to top