A ballot for strike action at the Open University (OU) has opened over the closure of regional offices and potential loss of over 500 jobs. The OU Senate has voted to advise against the plans despite the university’s attempts to prevent UCU lobbying the meeting.
Quoted in the Guardian, Philip O’Sullivan, lecturer in the faculty of social sciences, and a UCU rep. pointed out that this was the most fundamental change in the way the university had operated since its creation. Tony Coughlan, a tutor at the OU’s Bristol office also pointed out that closure of these centres means students do not get a person who can personalise the learning experience – this is something that the regions had always done.
Coughlan points out that its only through meeting other students that the sense of being in a learning community is created – something that’s vital if you’re having a difficult time as a student.
Pauline Collins, HEC member and Branch President at Open University said:
‘The Open University is respected the world over for the way it brings quality higher education to a wide range of people. At the core of that mission are its dedicated regional staff who provide essential support to thousands of students. Axing over 500 staff across seven centres would decimate the OU’s ability to provide the kind of local support that students need. UCU is asking the University to work with us to find a better solution for staff, students and the future of the Open University.’
The campaign blog is absolutely brilliant, and should be taken as an example to any branch in dispute.
Oh – and by the way, you can request your campaign headscarf by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org