Closing time

September 24, 2015

The Open University is proposing to close its regional offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Oxford (“Open University set to shut seven regional centres”, 15 September).

It is hard to know what the OU will look like as no vision or detailed plan has been supplied. The financial details are opaque and any form of risk assessment has not been forthcoming.

So the following is conjecture but is based on the way things are already moving and my knowledge of the institution.

The central planners in Milton Keynes cannot coordinate the complexities of local provision of services. The OU will become an online provider with little or no chance for students to meet a tutor in person. Wider student support will be from a call centre with staff who have weaker knowledge of curricula and experience in information and guidance. The support will be guided by computer models that predict student success and failure without much accuracy. Relationships will be virtual and the OU will be competing with other online providers here and abroad.

What will be lost? The chance to meet in local communities at an open event, a local tutorial with a tutor, the ability to adequately provide services for students with disabilities and outreach work to bring in students from deprived areas. We will also lose thousands of years of experience of front-line staff who do not need a script and a decision tree to support a student.

Vice-chancellor Peter Horrocks seems fixed on dismantling the regions of this great institution. There is a petition protesting against the closures that has gained more than 2,000 signatures in 36 hours, and the comments show the strength of feeling.

Name and address supplied

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 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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Position in Archaeology and Cultural History

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Energy and Process Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Energy and Process Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Industrial Energy Efficiency

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Postdoc in Traffic Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
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