The Open University branch of the University and College Union
Please write to your MP about the crisis facing the Open University and part-time adult education
Below is some suggested text for a letter/email to your MP and a link to resources for finding out about your MP and writing to him/her.
You may want to modify the suggested text below with your own experiences and local knowledge. If you are writing to a Labour MP you might mention that the Open University is one of Labour’s enduring achievements, now under threat from marketisation of Higher Education.
You can find information about your MP by entering your postcode on the web page at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp and on the page giving basic information about your MP, there is a button to click for writing to them by email. This is entirely up to you (so no pressure) but it will help our campaign to know how many people have emailed their MP, and you can let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear [name of MP]
I am writing to you about the £100m budget cuts proposed at the Open University.
Please do whatever you can to support the campaign against these radical cuts at the OU in the context of an overarching crisis in adult part-time education. Please ask questions about this, and consider putting down, or supporting, an Early Day Motion.
Since the introduction of the new fee regime in England adult part-time university student numbers have fallen by 56%. This should qualify as a national emergency in its own right, sufficient to justify emergency funding.
With many universities increasingly focused on full-time students the Open University is now the only option for many of your constituents who want to “earn and learn”.
The OU itself is now under threat, with £100m budget cuts proposed by its senior management, which will mean radical cuts to its curriculum, to staffing levels and to the support it can offer students. The OU has already suffered funding cuts, and, like the NHS, is reaching the point where it can take no more.
Since its foundation in 1969 the OU has provided access to higher education to many adults who would otherwise have been excluded from it. Thousands graduate from the OU every year, and many, including some of your constituents, have overcome disadvantage in order to do so.
The Open University still has a crucial role to play in upskilling and reskilling for a modern economy, and enhancing the quality of life for its many students.
The Open University's unique system of blended learning, individual feedback and small-group tuition distinguishes it from other online providers. This model is now being threatened by lack of finance, and, along with proposed curriculum cuts, this inevitably places its mission of social justice at risk.
Update August 2017
The University has announced that it does not intend to proceed with putting IT out to tender. This is fantastic news for the loyal and dedicated staff in IT, who were facing the prospect of transfer to an external company. It is also great news that the University will now retain control of the IT services on which the future depends.
We launched a petition about the possible outsourcing of IT and we would like to thank all of the 8229 people who signed it: www.change.org/p/stop-privatisation-at-the-open-university
IT meeting about TUPE - FAQs added 1st August 2017
Negotiations for a new Associate Lecturer Contract were paused after the Group Tuition Policy (GTP) issues, they have now restarted and there was an announcement on TutorHome page on 29 March 2017, the message is copied here:
AL Contract Negotiation Update
The following statement from UCU and the Open University provides the latest update on the status of the negotiations towards a new AL contract:
'AL Contract negotiations are now back on track after a suspension during the GTP difficulties. The UCU/Management contract negotiating group met for a full day on 22 March 2017 and agree that good progress is being made. Further meetings will be held in April and May. The intention is to agree the basis of a new contract that can be balloted on by the summer.'
AL Contract Negotiation Group
Our Academic policy working group have held several meetings and the new OU Academic Policy was approved by OU Senate in April 2017.
The information we sent to all members about the Locations Agreement with the OU is on the Regional Office closures page.