Student saddles up for a course with a difference

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A MAN is planning to combine his love of cycling with the Open University course he is on in a 31,000 kilometre trip.

Steven Primrose-Smith is a 40-year-old full-time student with The Open University and University of Wales, Lampeter. and already has a degree – earned in 2008 – in Philosophy and English from the OU.

He is currently planning his dissertation for an MA in philosophy with Lampeter as well as working through the necessary modules at the OU to get a degree in maths and another in physical science.

Steven is planning on travelling to 50 European capital cities over the next two and a half years when he should have completed all his courses.

He said: “The primary aim is simply to pass both the degrees that I’m doing with The Open University – a BSc in Mathematics and a BSc in Physical Science – and to pass them as well as possible.

“If it proves impossible to study while cycling around Europe, then the cycling will have to stop or be delayed for a while. But most OU students fit their studies around something far more time-consuming like a 40 hour working week and a family so it should be possible to work it around a little bike ride.”

Another aim of Steven’s trip is to meet as many OU students along the way as possible. He has been studying with The Open University on and off since 1997 and entirely since 2007 and throughout that time he has only ever met one other OU student, and that was by accident at a Christmas party.

Steven said: “If you study outside the UK – and there are many, many thousands who do – you don’t get any group tutorials, and if you’re far from other students it can be a very lonely experience. I can’t change that but I can make it a little bit less lonely for one person for one day, and make my own trip a little less lonely too.

“And, in any case, it’s not really the cities that I’m interested in as much as the little places I’ve never heard of that I’ll find by visiting any student who’s up for a chat.”

Along the way Steven will also be looking to raise as much money for three separate charities in The Blood Pressure Association, Action for Animals and OUSET – a group who help less well-off students to fund their education through The Open University.

To find out more about the challenge, to donate to any of the charities or to arrange to meet up with Steven along the way visit