OU favours firm approach

March 22, 1996

Business school executives at the Open University are introducing company-style seminars in a move which could make the good old tutorial a thing of the past.

This summer, the 1,250 first-stage students signed up for the five-day Open University's popular MBA programme will attend seminars rather than tutorials. "It's really a change of terminology," said course manager Pat McCarthy. "We have been stuck with the standard OU set-up, but it is not really appropriate for the business school."

Like the tutorials, the seminars will still be a student-staff ratio of 16:1. But with most of the students in their mid-thirties and nearly all coming from a business background - where brain-storming seminars are all the rage - the business school decided that tutorials lacked the necessary cachet.

According to Ms McCarthy: "These students, including private consultants, vets and doctors, are not just passive students, here to lap up what the tutor gives them. They are here to talk about their experiences. It's very interactive."

In the long run, the other more advanced 3,750 students completing the Open University's MBA might be offered seminars rather than tutorials. Ms McCarthy added that tutorials might eventually be replaced across the whole institution. "It is quite likely that this idea will spread through the Open University," she said.

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