The OU is closing doors

May 21, 2015

Last year, the East Grinstead regional centre that served the South East was removed from the Open University map. Under new proposals, the OU’s regional structure will be reduced further. Some are describing it as the OU’s Hunger Games, pitting region against region.

If implemented, the proposals could shut up to seven offices, leaving just London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh. Regional centres in Leeds, Gateshead, Manchester, Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham are all under threat, which undermines the university’s claim to be a local university with a network of regional centres throughout the UK.

It seems to be odd timing when the political direction is to devolve power to English cities, with the university in an enviable position to take advantage of the possibilities that such devolution could bring. The government’s push for apprenticeships and the rethinking of higher education would also make the OU’s local infrastructure invaluable. However, it seems to be on course to becoming a centralised model, creating vast geographical distances between full-time staff, students and the associate lecturers who deliver tuition. The inevitable staff cuts would mean the loss of hundreds of years of collective experience and the end of a commitment to supporting students across the UK.

The final decision is due in the autumn, which gives Peter Horrocks time to take up the reins as the university’s vice-chancellor and decide what the OU will look like. One thing that seems certain is that the university is on the brink of a change that many feel will threaten the fabric of one of the country’s greatest institutions for championing opportunity.

Name and address withheld

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

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 6 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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Student Hub Advisor

Greenwich School Of Management Ltd

Data Systems Administrator

Greenwich School Of Management Ltd

Deputy Vice Chancellor

University Of Cumbria

Professor in English Literature

University Of Glasgow
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes