Budding OTs can better manage work-life-study balance thanks to unique study route

News Page 6th June 2019

The University’s BSc degree in Occupational Therapy is, like many other full-time programmes, delivered over a three-year period.

For students who want to take the course but fit their studies around a day-job or family life, the University of Northampton offers a Full Time Extended (FTE route).

Here, students study for three years – although academic years are slightly longer –  but the route includes less weekly attendance, meaning students with work or family commitments can more easily accommodate academic studies.

The press office caught up with three students who opted for the ‘Full Time Extended’ (FTE) route to their dream career.


Rebecca Cooper

“I was 23 before I started the course and had the usual responsibilities – a mortgage, bills, a husband – so I needed to continue working. But I didn’t want another year of study – I wanted to be an Occupational Therapist as soon as!

“After spending a long time searching for an OT course that would match, it was an incredibly happy coincidence when I stumbled across the FTE route at Northampton. I called one of the lecturers straight away to talk about it.

“Thankfully, my employers allowed me to reduce my hours to part-time so I could attend university two days a week.

“Having the flexibility to keep my job going so I could support my studies financially and keep a house – and husband! – in order was a blessing. My standard three-year degree route friends are very supportive and, perhaps, a little bit envious!”

Hazel Freestone

“I’d been visiting a few other universities that were actually much closer to home than Northampton and researching about part-time degrees. But pursuing this option quickly evaporated, either because I couldn’t self-fund the extra year or – frustratingly – that route was cancelled shortly after I made enquiries.

“I had no idea the FTE route existed, but I saw some information about it on the University’s website and thought – bingo! I came to an Open Day and spoke with Senior Lecturer Debbie Hewson who gave me all the details and was very welcoming and encouraging – I half-knew Northampton was the right choice before I got there, but was 100% sure when I left.

“The support hasn’t stopped throughout my studies as my home location has been taken into consideration and I was given options to find the most suitably local placements. I also had the option to attend some of these part-time, but over a slightly longer period.

“As occupational therapists, we talk about getting the balance between work and home life right for the people we work with, so we need to ensure we implement this approach in our own lives – therapist heal thyself, so to speak! I feel that if I had taken the usual full-time three-year route, I might have been overburdened and exhausted”.

Zoe Le Sueur

“For me the standard route was not an option. I have a daughter who is now 7, so I needed to balance family life and maintaining my part time job. I would not have been able to afford to continue with the course if I couldn’t have worked, so FTE was the perfect route for me.

“Keeping the job going is something other OT students really comment on – having a decent source of income and the time to commit to my studies is such an incentive to take the FTE path. An added bonus to the FTE group is that we were a small cohort, so we formed great bonds and support systems with each other very quickly.

“When I started my degree, I wasn’t even sure my academic ability was sufficient to pass the first year, so to have achieved everything I have has boosted my confidence and my faith in my own ability. It helped that the course tutors are all brilliant, they are all so approachable that if I ever needed assistance or support, they have either offered it or pointed me in the right direction.

“Although maintaining a social life was slightly more difficult – as the work load outside of university time can eat into weekends – I’m quite organised in general anyway and made sure to mix the work with a good holiday and some festivals to ensure I still enjoy the things I love doing, just like a good OT does for their clients”!

Debbie Hewson, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy is also the admissions tutor for OT at the University: “Part of the University’s mission is to always be Super Supportive whether to our colleagues, people in the community or our students. Offering the FTE route is a natural extension of this.

“Around 40% of our students are over 21, they have jobs and busy lives, but they are already passionate about the profession even before having lectures. We hear it a lot at open days that they want to study but keep their personal lives pretty much as they are and that standard full-time or part-time studying routes simply aren’t an option. The flexibility of this route – the only one offered by OT course providers in the country – ensures this continues”.

Find out more about Occupational Therapy (BSc) at the University of Northampton.

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