The Open University branch of the University and College Union
Here are some of the messages of support we received from our email about our "pop-up rally" on 28th June.
Our petitition is at this address: www.change.org/p/stop-privatisation-at-the-open-university
I am against privatisation and I support this rally. The OUs IT services should be for the OU, its staff and for its students. Our IT systems are specific to the university – we should invest to our services and capacity, and not give money to for-profit organisations that always chase a bottom line. As a homeworker, I rely on IT support.
That is shocking. I am sorry I cannot be there - this is indicative of the way in which the university is going. Good IT support is crucial in a university which is at distance and this relies on computer staff being familiar with a whole range of complex systems. I frequently use computer services as I work largely from home and their help is invaluable.
It is essential to take a stand against creeping privatisation, job losses, education for profit and reduced terms and conditions. Michael Young, Jennie Lee, Harold Wilson and the rest of the gang who got the OU off the ground must be spinning in their graves. I was an OU student in the 70’s. The OU rescued me and opened up amazing new vistas. It is so dispiriting to watch what’s happening now and see AL morale going down and down.
As a retired member of UCU, I found the proposal for privatising the OU's IT function one of the stupidest, possibly most horrifying, ideas to come out of the new management. The service and skills provided by what in my era was ACS was essential to the success of the OU through the development of IT applications for students and staff. While there was sometimes a tendency to ignore commercial software and insist on "reinventing the wheel" internally, this was a small price to pay for the originality and commitment of IT staff. It would be invidious to name names, but without the enthusiasm of several individuals, the early moves into computer-based and email-supported learning on T102 would probably never have come to fruition. There is no way that an outsourced support system could provide this sort of input. At a time when the OU is facing multiple challenges and needs to remain at the forefront of using IT for student learning and support, outsourcing would be a potential disaster
We must not let our out-of-control management pick us off one group at a time, so we have to stand together, staff from all different parts of the OU, who make this wonderful University possible, and support each other through this brutal attack by OU management on their own staff. This attempt to privatise IT is yet another example of the OU trying to be “corporate” but being 10 years behind the curve - many companies that tried this in the past have since reversed it because it does not solve any problems. And of course if it were to succeed it would be the first of many privatisations.