Using superfast broadband for a university degree

Helen lives in the remote fishing village of Coverack in West Cornwall. Following a forty year career as a primary school teacher and head teacher, Helen retired in 2012.

Keen to make the most of retirement, Helen enrolled on a BA (Hons) degree through Open University. She says: “As a primary school teacher, I spent a lot of time exploring subjects at the level suitable for an eleven year old! I wanted to enter high level academic study and develop my interests in History and Ancient History at the level that was right for me”.

Although Helen had a home broadband connection, it was slow and unreliable, so connecting to superfast broadband has made all the difference to her.

Helen explains: “Increasingly, most Open University tutorials are now delivered online. A typical tutorial in a specialist subject such as mine includes a group of students based around the UK and overseas. Before I had a superfast connection, I could not rely on being able to join an online tutorial, as frequently I could not log in, the connection would drop out or the quality would be too poor. To my delight, now I can rely on a superb crystal clear connection. It is magic! It means I can really concentrate on the subject being discussed in the tutorial rather than having to worry about the home broadband connection. It’s also now so much easier to carry out independent online research. Superfast broadband really has transformed the way I can approach my studies and the enjoyment I derive from learning.”

Helen continues: “Without a superfast connection, it would be impossible for someone in a rural area to take advantage of Open University. Even ‘local’ tutorials are likely to be in Bristol, which would mean catching a 6am train from Cornwall. Superfast broadband means that people of all ages, including those living in remote rural locations, can make the most of lifelong learning opportunities, from which they would otherwise be excluded.”

As well as access to Open University education, Helen relishes the other advantages that superfast broadband has brought her.

Following serious foot surgery, Helen was unable to leave home for many months. “The experience really brought home to me that the internet can be a lifeline. Without broadband, I would have had very restricted social interaction over that period. My family are scattered geographically and I keep in touch with my children and others through What’s App. Now I have superfast broadband, I know I can always keep in touch with family and friends over the internet, for example through What’s App, Skype or social media. Without superfast broadband and living in a remote rural community, it would be all too easy to become isolated.”

Helen continues: “Superfast broadband is also helping improve my quality of life in other ways. For example, as a result of being laid up for months on end following surgery, I have put on three stones. I am determined to lose the weight and I am using online weight loss resources to help me. Again, this would be far more difficult without a superfast connection.

“It is also enabling me to join specialist networks that would not be available locally. Following my foot reconstruction, I cannot do coastal walking as it is too hilly. So I am exploring long distance canal walking, which is easier for me as it is all on the flat. Of course, there are no canals locally, so this means connecting with national networks of canal walking enthusiasts and experts. With superfast broadband, I can participate in these networks and online forums and build new friendships and contacts with people elsewhere in the UK just as easily as if they lived next door. It is allowing me to investigate new opportunities and open new doors to an exciting future.”

Helen concludes: “Quite simply, superfast broadband is helping me to live the kind of life I want to live. Living in an isolated rural location, I would not otherwise be able to achieve everything I do now and everything I want to achieve in the future.”

“Without a superfast connection, it would be impossible for someone in a rural area to take advantage of Open University. Even ‘local’ tutorials are likely to be in Bristol, which would mean catching a 6am train from Cornwall.”