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Campaign activity - OU Regional campaign 2015-2016

March 2016
Branch Twitter account: - we now have 424 followers and our target is to have as many followers as Leeds University branch of UCU who have 2060 followers!

Branch Facebook account:!/oubranch.ucu

24 November 2015
All recent press activity is on our News page. Suggested text for contacting your MP:
general 7 regional centres version
local version - edit the text before sending

16 September 2015
Open University regional centre closures - please sign the petition opposing the closures at this address:

15 September 2015
500 jobs at risk as Open University plans to close regional centres

Almost 500 jobs could disappear from seven Open University centres in England under controversial plans described as “catastrophic” by the University and College Union (UCU), which represents staff at the institution.....Read full press release on our news page

15 June 2015 - Locations Analysis questionnaire
The OU branch of UCU has now submitted its own response to the Locations Analysis questionnaire and we have posted it here for information.

June 2015 - Locations Analysis questionnaire - guidance notes
The Locations Analysis project has released a questionnaire asking for feedback on the first phase of the project and suggestions for how to look at options.

In response, the Regional Campaign group from OU UCU has prepared notes for members. We recommend that members look at these notes and suggestions before answering the questionnaire and apologies if you have already completed the questionnaire, it closes on Monday 15 June 2015.

26 May 2015 - An anonymous letter picks up on the OU’s Locations Analysis Project and suggests that any further closures of regional offices at the University would have a negative impact on staff and damage its position in supporting students across the UK.

March 2015 - there has been some press activity and here are the links to various articles/letters.

26 March 2015 - Open at what cost? - anonymous letter in the THE (Times Higher Education)

19 March 2015 - Open to the challenges - letter from Tim Blackman (acting Vice Chancellor) in the THE. (Times Higher Education)

12 March 2015 - Light and shade in OU numbers - anonymous letter to the THE

26 February 2015 - Managers and MOOCs at root of OU's woes - letter from Pauline Collins, Branch President in the THE.

20 February 2015 - Open University went into debt after student numbers fell by a quarter - article in The Times.
Link for OU staff (to The Times article) where you may need to login.

19 February 2015 - Open University’s numbers dive 28% as pool of part-timers dries up - article in the Times Higher Education.

25 November 2014 - R13 staff newsletter, issue 4 November 2014
Build our Regions - we held another lobby of the OU Council meeting on 25 November 2014 - the photos are on our Rosie photo wall at the address below. It's not too late, if you want a head scarf then please phone 01908 6(53069) or email and our Branch Administrator will post one to you.

MK News article, 24 Nov 2014

MK Citizen article, 21 Nov 2014

The branch developed the following document which has been sent to the Locations Analysis project team, 17 October 2014. Branch response to the Locations Analysis Project team.

Article published on Times Higher Education website, 19 June 2014

Letter published in The Guardian, 19 June 2014

OU Regions and Nations at the Heart of the OU

Have you benefitted from a regional office or been supported by OU regional staff?
If so, would you write to the OU’s Vice Chancellor, Mr Martin Bean, to tell him about your positive experience?

UCU's Campaign
We believe that downgrading the regional structure or closing individual offices would affect not only the local staff, but also central academics and the student experience. The regional offices have a key role to play in the OU’s relationships with communities, too. Local knowledge and relationships (for instance of employers, health trusts and services) bring huge benefits to the university and ensure a unique geographical ‘reach’ for public engagement. In our view, taking the long-term view of the OU’s health and mission should mean celebrating and strengthening the regional structure.

OU UCU Response to the Open University's Business case for closing the East Grinstead regional centre - added 25 Sept 2014

UCU Communications and Lobbying toolkit - PDF file

Region 13 staff newsletter - issue 4, November 2014

Region 13 staff newsletter - issue 3, July 2014

Region 13 staff newsletter - issue 2, June 2014

Region 13 staff newsletter - issue 1, May 2014

June 2014: East Grinstead update, BBC Radio Surrey interview - here is a link to an MP3 file of the second radio interview Paula James gave on BBC Radio Surrey on 23rd June 2014. This time Paula was joined by Wendy Maples and Ian Donnachie, two OU Academics. Listen to the interview.

East Grinstead update, BBC Radio Sussex interview - here is a link to an MP3 file of the radio interview Paula James gave on BBC Radio Sussex on 21st May 2014, Paula is the UCU rep for East Grinstead regional centre. Listen to the interview.

How to help
Please send an email to so that we can collect stories about the advantages our students and community partners get from access to the OU regional offices. Of course, if your experience could have been improved by more local support—UCU and the university need to know that too!

If you’re a current student or an alumnus/a of the OU, consider contacting the OUSA representatives on Senate and Council. Let them know about your positive experience of the regions and your support for UCU’s campaign, please copy/cc on that email. Further information about the OU's governance structure is at this address:

The Story so far
On 2 April 2014, Senate passed a motion to affirm the work of the English regions. This asked for an academic voice in the Regional Analysis, and for East Grinstead (R13) to be kept open pending the outcomes of any review.

After the vote 35 UCU colleagues lobbied members of Council before its meeting on May 13. Despite a sympathetic hearing, Council agreed to the recommendation of senior management and ratified closure of R13 without consultation.

As recently as November 2013, staff members there were assured that the future of the region was secure and that an alternative location would be found if the building lease was not renewed. Previous reviews by the university repeatedly confirmed the prime importance of the English regional offices and their centrality to the OU’s national mission.

With this closure, 64 staff members are at risk of redundancy if they cannot relocate to London and 600 Associate Lecturers will have their line management disrupted. UCU caseworkers are helping affected members by attending consultative meetings.

At the moment it is unclear to UCU exactly what the remit of the Regional Analysis will be, whether it will only focus on the English regions or whether there will be an element that will have an impact on the nations as well, and whether the outcome could include recommendations for closure of further regional offices.