Does Open University Affect Benefits?

Circumstances that affect benefits can vary depending on the benefit that you claim. Through this blog post, we aim to learn whether or not an open university course affects the benefits you or your parents claim. Additionally, we will also discuss how benefits are affected due to an open university course, an apprenticeship or a part-time job.

Does Open University Affect Benefits?

No, an open university course does not affect benefits. If you are a student at an open university, you will be considered a part-time student. This will remain applicable even if you spend full-time study hours for your open university course. Therefore, any benefits that you or your parents claim will not be affected as a result of your status as an open university student.

However, if you are an open university student who has applied for student finance, in that case, your benefits can be affected. The reason for this is that the monetary support that you receive on your academic fee as a result of student finance can potentially be taken as an income and due to this fact, the amount that your claim regarding your benefits claim can be reduced.

Benefits that can be affected as a result of your increased finance through student loans include the following:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment And Support Allowance
  • Tax Credits
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Universal Credit

Therefore, if an open university student applies for any of the following loans, their benefits can be reduced or they can be deemed ineligible for the claim:

  • Maintenance Loan
  • Post Graduate Loan
  • Professional And Career Development Loan

If you receive an NHS bursary or teacher training bursary, your benefits can also be affected as a result.

While these are general guidelines, you should seek advice from your university or campus counsellor to have an exact idea of how your particular situation will be (or will not be) affected.

How Does Open University Affect Benefits?

If you are an open university student claiming student finance, your benefits can be reduced due to the financial support you receive. Below are details of how each benefit can be affected:

  • Income Support: If you are claiming income support and seeking student finance, you will only receive benefits payments during your summer vacation and, not during the academic term.
  • Job Seeker’s Allowance: You can only claim a Job seeker’s allowance as a part-time student if you are open to working or looking for work. Full-time students will not be able to claim this benefit.
  • Carer’s Allowance: You can only claim Carer’s allowance if your study hours are less than 21 hours. If you spend more time than this on your academics you will not be able to claim the benefit.
  • Employment and Support Allowance: As a full-time student, you can only claim income-related ESA if you are also claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance. However, as a part-time student, you don’t need to claim any other benefits to qualify for ESA.
  • Tax Credits: While child tax credits are not affected by the fact that their claimant is an open university student, if you are claiming Working tax credit, you should be working 16 hours a week while studying.
  • Housing Benefits: Your Housing Benefit claim will not be affected by your student status as long as you are living on rent and are on low income.
  • Council Tax Reduction: Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax while part-time students can claim a discount on their council tax bill.
  • Universal Credit: Full-time students cannot claim Universal Credit unless they are responsible for 1 or 2 children. However part-time students can claim universal credit as long as they are able to fulfil their work-related commitments.

Does An Apprenticeship Affect Benefits?

No, an apprenticeship will not affect your benefits. If you are claiming benefits, they will not be reduced if you or your child are on an apprenticeship.

For instance, if you are in a recognised apprenticeship, you can continue claiming Universal Credit. Similarly, if you or your child are on an apprenticeship, their income will not be considered for a means test and your Housing Benefit will not decrease.

On the other hand, unless the claimant has a long-term health condition or a disability; once the youngest child turns 16 and starts working, they may no longer be able to claim Working Tax Credit. 

However, if someone is in an apprenticeship program, they will not be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.

Does A Part Time Job Affect Benefits?

Yes, if you start working part-time or get enrolled in an apprenticeship program and leave education at the age of 16 or 17 years to start working or training for work, your parents will no longer be able to claim benefits that are intended for you.

As a general rule, if a 16-year-old is not in full-time education or apprenticeship, their parents will lose claim of the following benefits: 

  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Additional amounts received with Universal Credit, Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Additional amounts are received due to the assessment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax support.

However, in the case of Housing Benefit claims, the additional income from your earnings is likely to reduce the amount that your parents receive each month.


The discussion in this article brings us to the conclusion that an open university course does not affect benefits. However, if you apply for a student loan, some of your benefits can potentially be affected as a result of the additional finance that you claim. To confirm your entitlement for benefits, you can use an independent benefits calculator.

FAQs: Does Open University Affect Benefits?

Can I claim Universal Credit while studying at an Open University?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you study at an open university as it will be considered a part-time education. However, generally speaking, full-time students are not able to claim universal credit.

What are the disadvantages of studying at an Open University?

While an open university course allows students to continue working if they have part-time jobs; one of the biggest disadvantages include National Open University students usually find it difficult to find good jobs as compared to mainstream university students. 

Does studying at an Open University affect ESA?

Usually, studying at an open university does not affect ESA payments; however, if you apply for a student loan you should check whether a part-time education will affect your eligibility for ESA. 

Are Open University degrees taken seriously?

Yes,  open university degrees have a full degree status and are taken seriously.

Can you claim PIP and go to university?

Yes, you can claim PIP and go to university; whether you are a full-time or part-time student.



Open university — Scope | Disability forum

Benefits and tax credits while you’re studying – Gingerbread

Can part-time students claim Universal Credit? – Turn2us