Openly self-seeking

February 9, 2017

Peter Horrocks’ article “Why my university is not entering the TEF” (Opinion, 2 February) is typical Open University sleight of hand. He well knows that the OU’s key problem is the appalling retention and progression of its students. The university’s main problem is that it loses many of the students it recruits, and the teaching excellence framework will expose this fact explicitly.

Despite many projects over recent years at the OU aiming to improve retention, no dent has been made in the statistics, which continue to show that 55 to 60 per cent of new students finish or pass their first module. This means tens of thousands drop out each year. Tracking studies show that over seven years only 14 to 17 per cent of students who started together gain a qualification.

Many consider it immoral that the OU has a ruthless recruitment drive without any proper, structured engagement with applicants to determine if they are ready for study and to turn people away with good advice as to alternatives if it is obvious that they are not prepared.

Put bluntly, the OU is knowingly recruiting students who will fail. The OU faces a serious long-term reputational risk as the sector moves into a far more stringent and publicly accountable audit culture, and it has no strategy to succeed in the TEF world.


Send to

Letters should be sent to:
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations