Thursday 7 March 2013

Can I be known by my preferred name at OUA? Nope!

When I first enrolled with Open Universities in 2010, I filled out my personal details including "First Name", "Last Name" and "Preferred Name" - Nicky. So I was mildly surprised when I started my first unit to see that I was apparently to be known as "Nicole". Not a massive issue, but I'm Nicky everywhere on social media and the subject was about your Web Presence, so I thought it might be nice if my Blackboard presence matched everything else.

I logged an email request with OUA about a change but they were unable (unwilling? OK... unable) to help. I asked why they bothered asking for 'Preferred Name" if they weren't going to use it, and got the usual "I'll take that up with my team-leader" routine.

One day I was having a bit of a tongue-in-cheek whine on Twitter about the irony of the whole thing, and our wonderful unit controller waved his virtual magic wand and somehow had me changed to "Nicky" at that particular uni. Yay!

So now it's 2013 and I've started an elective at a new university, and low-and-behold - I'm "Nicole". This time it wasn't difficult to change, again directly via the uni, although it did take a couple of days.

"Hmmm" I thought. "So... each time I enrol at a new uni, my details are sent from OUA, to the uni I'm studying at. WHAT ABOUT, if I could just ask OUA to use that "Preferred Name" field when enrolling me? That would be easier, right? After all, they do such a good job at focussing on online students, making sure we're not feeling isolated, and surely they can appreciate that it's difficult to be found when your Blackboard name doesn't match you on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else. Yes, I'll contact OUA and ask them to just use that name. Easy."

But no, not easy. In fact, impossible. The "Preferred Name" field is now gone (not what I had in mind, guys!). If I want to change my name, I need to provide legal documentation and a statutory declaration to prove it!  If, for instance, I was a student from a non-English-speaking country and wished to use an English name while studying, which many people do, to assist me in socialising with other students - bad luck. If you have a first name that you're not ever, EVER known by - bad luck, now you are. It's almost unbelievable that this is even an issue.

1 comment:

  1. Come on now Nicky. I have lived in Australia since 1990 and I have very few opportunities to use my actual name Nicola, as Australians are convinced I must be called Nicole even when I correct them. Then there's 'Nicky" how do you spell that I get asked. My response these days, I don't care whatever. It's all to hard.


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