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15 September 2015 - Southwest

15 September 2015 - Newcastle Chronicle Live

15 September 2015 - Bristol Evening Post

15 September 2015 - Cambridge Evening News

15 September 2015 - Gateshead local press

15 September 2015 - ITV in Bristol

15 September 2015 - Bristol Post

15 September 2015 - Bristol

15 September 2015 - Oxford Mail

PRESS RELEASE - word version

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.

Thousands of current and potential students could be affected by the move, which would see the removal of vital services, such as careers counselling, study advice and support for disabled students.

The seven affected centres, with 494 staff are:

The plans would leave only the main Open University site in Milton Keynes along with regional centres in Manchester and Nottingham and national ones in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. The Open University has said it is considering options such as voluntary redundancy programmes and relocation schemes. However, the union said the current plans will only add to the chaos.

The shortest journey for any of the affected staff to their next nearest centre is from Oxford to Milton Keynes at 40 miles. Staff in Gateshead would have to endure an unfeasible five-hour round trip of 250 miles to their nearest centre in Edinburgh.

UCU said to lose such huge amounts of expertise would be a devastating blow and questioned why so many centres were being hit at the same time. The Open University has no specific entry qualifications for students and the union said it is crucial that students are guided to the right level of study in order to succeed.

Staff in the local offices also evaluate and support students with disabilities, provide course materials, assign tutorial groups, run examination arrangements and manage the hugely popular degree ceremonies.

The union said its members were proud of the Open University’s reputation for supporting students with disabilities and from backgrounds with little or no history of university in their family. It added that the regional centres were absolutely vital in providing personal support.

There will be a meeting of UCU members tomorrow (Wednesday, 16 September 2015) to discuss the next steps, but the union warned that industrial action could not be ruled out.

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 core of that mission are its dedicated regional staff who provide essential support to thousands of students and their tutors.

'Axing almost 500 staff across seven centres would be catastrophic and decimate the Open University’s ability to provide the kind of local support that students need. We are unconvinced by the university’s talk of staff relocating, especially as this will mean hours spent in the car or on the train just trying to get to and from work.

OU branch of UCU office on 01908 6(53069) or

September 2015
The TUC are conducting a Race at work survey - it's open until 13 September at this address:

2 July 2015
The Open University Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks outlines his vision for the organisation in response to a decline in part-time Higher Education. The article also outlines his plans to make the University more agile and able to respond more quickly to changes in the market.

17 June 2015
On 15 June 2015, ALs will have received an email inviting you to take part in an OU survey about the AL role review. There were links to the 2008 and the draft 2014 AL profiles.

Some aspects of this survey have come as a surprise to the UCU branch officers. While some parts of it are useful we have a few concerns about other aspects.

A useful aspect is that we are invited to add to the list of eleven "additional duties" that are to be integrated into the new AL contract. These are on the second page of the draft 2014 AL profile. If any of you have any ideas on this we would ask you to let us know at as well as by completing the survey.

A role description that underestimates our contribution will not be an asset to ALs if seeking work on a comparable grade elsewhere. We encourage members to respond to this survey, and also to feed any significant points you wish to make back to the UCU branch at The deadline for completing the survey is Friday 17th July 2015 and the survey is at this address:

11 June 2015
Members are being consulted on this year’s national pay negotiations. A paltry 1% falls far short of the sector’s ability to pay and does not address real terms pay cuts. UCU research has shown that in 2013/14, the average vice-chancellor’s salary was 6.4 times more than the average salary. We need to address the steady decline in the real value of pay in HE. In addition, the lack of a meaningful response to the pay equality claim is more than disappointing – it is a disgrace.

Pay and Pay Equality matter – Congress recommends rejection of the offer. Please VOTE to REJECT the offer and YES for strike action and action short of a strike in furtherance of the dispute for FAIR PAY.
UCU Pay Claim - settlement offer
UCU Pay Claim - Joint HE Trade Union Pay Claim 2015/16
UCU Pay claim - Joint Higher Education Trade Union Pay Equality Claim 2015/16

3 June 2015
We are currently working on a new issue of the Spark newsletter and it will feature links to a WordPress blog - we hope that members will start to use the blog at this address:

6 May 2015
We were very pleased that 29 slogans were entered into our competition for a new slogan to appear on some OU UCU branch, branded items. The winning slogan is "Our University, Our Voice" and the winning member has been notified. We will shortly have some branded items produced that feature this winning slogan.

16 April 2015 - there are web casts of the two presentations that were given about the proposed changes to the USS pension scheme, you will need to login to the OU website for the recording work. Go to Stadium website

19 March 2015 - UCU document on the USS consultation which ends on 22 May 2015 - have your say! All USS scheme members are entitled to respond. Here is a UCU document for members to consider in response to the prompt questions.

18 March 2015
The branch co-opted another ordinary member at its Exec meeting on 12 March 2015 - we welcome Gill Watt onto the Executive Committee.

The Times, 20 February 2015
This news article picks up on yesterday’s Times Higher Education magazine piece about OU student numbers over the past five years and linking to a sector-wide collapse in part-time study. The article is totally wrong in suggesting the OU is in debt (as opposed to a year’s planned deficit) and the Media Relations team has been working to get the story corrected. The piece also looks at the OU’s finances, in particular expenditure in activities such as FutureLearn. There are comments submitted on behalf of the OU highlighting the OU’s strong performance in a challenging part-time sector and the rise in student enquiries generated via FutureLearn.

Times Higher Education article about OU Student numbers - 19 February 2015

Fund our Future demonstration: 10 Nov 2010

A day in the life at UCU

UCU Congress 2010 delivered the following "day in the life" video about the work of the University & College union.
To see the video full size, press the 'Full Screen' icon on the video player below.