Bedford student is the star of university’s advertising campaign

Alex Bailey
Alex Bailey

A student from Bedford is appearing in a national advertising campaign for The Open University.

Alex Bailey, 21, is a degree apprentice at the OU, studying for a BA (Hons) in management practice.

He is starring in the OU’s new national advertising campaign with Channel 4, in addition to sharing his story online in the OU’s new series of Open Diaries social media adverts – which lift the lid on what it’s like to study with the OU.

Alex had completed two A levels whilst on a scholarship with a professional football team, but his dreams were crushed after suffering a serious knee injury which meant he was unable to renew his football contract. He was unsure of what to do next.

Alex said: “From a personal point of view, I didn’t really think university was for me. I was keen to get my foot on the career ladder and to start earning some money.”

He always placed importance on his studies so completed two A-levels alongside playing professional football. He then researched the alternative options available to him online and came across degree apprenticeships.

Fortunately, studying for a degree apprenticeship with the OU has enabled Alex to remain debt-free due to combining his studies and work.

Alex said: “My apprenticeship is funded by my employer, the OU, so whilst I’m debt-free I’m also being paid a monthly salary. So financially, I feel like I’m in a much better position than a lot of my friends and peers who are studying at traditional university.”

There are a variety of support systems on offer for Alex and fellow OU students to make use of whilst studying at the university too, including forums and group chats.

He added: “My friends at university often question my contact time. They say to me, ‘Well, how do you get a degree without actually seeing a tutor?’. When actually, I have more contact time with my tutor than they do. I have their personal email and personal phone number and I can call or speak to them whenever I need.

“They’re also really flexible. I’ve just hurt my knee again and have an operation coming up, but I called my tutor and she worked really hard with me to make sure I was up-to-date with all my work before my operation. I’m now about a month ahead so when I go into hospital, I can just focus on getting better and don’t have to worry about falling behind on my studies.”

Like many students, studying with the OU has allowed Alex to develop personally and to learn new skills that will help him in the workplace both now and in future.

He said: “In terms of progression, the beauty of the degree apprenticeship is that it gives me options afterwards. I also value learning a lot more now after being able to apply my learning to the real world. I think the problem with just learning theory at university is that, as great as it can be, if you don’t apply it to real-life scenarios then it’s not practical.

“In terms of future goals, I would like to undertake a management role at the OU in the near future, given that my current studies provide a great platform for me to manage different people and processes. In the long term, my ambition is to secure a role high up in a company one day - such as a vice chancellor or director role.”

On appearing in the OU’s ‘Open Diaries’ campaign, Alex said: “The Open University gave me the opportunity to both earn and learn, so appearing in the new advertising campaign has been really exciting. It is great to show people what an amazing education the OU can offer and encourage people to take that first step in fulfilling their career aspirations. I hope my appearance in the ads will inspire more people to take the leap.”