by Tim Lezard UCU members are today lobbying a meeting of the Open University’s council on Tuesday in protest at plans that could see around 700 jobs go from eight regional centres across England. Staff will be handing out leaflets to council members f …
UCU members are today lobbying a meeting of the Open University’s council on Tuesday in protest at plans that could see around 700 jobs go from eight regional centres across England.
Staff will be handing out leaflets to council members from 9.30am as they arrive for the 10am meeting at Walton Hall on the institution’s Milton Keynes campus. A final decision on the fate of the regional centres is expected at a meeting of the vice-chancellor’s executive in January.
The OU currently has regional centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford. Its East Grinstead site has already been earmarked for closure although national centres in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast are not at risk.
The 676 staff in the eight centres cover jobs ranging from academics through to secretarial and support roles. The union said the closures would be a real blow for the local communities and economies.
UCU said the regional centres are vital to efforts to widen participation and that they provide crucial support to students from backgrounds with little or no history of university in their family.
Open University UCU branch president Pauline Collins 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 centre of that mission are its regional centres and the dedicated staff who provide essential support.
‘In these difficult times we should be doing everything we can to make university accessible to more people, particularly those who may be looking to study part-time. Axing eight regional centres and 700 jobs would be a huge blow for anyone wanting a second chance to get on in higher education.”
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