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Taking action in higher education

East Grinstead Open University Centre to close with 64 jobs at risk

20 May 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

The executive body of the Open University (OU) has agreed to implement plans to close the university's regional centre in East Grinstead.

The plans announced on Tuesday 13 May leave 64 jobs at risk and UCU says the closure has serious consequences for the OU's hugely successful regional network.

The union said regional centres have become increasingly important in recent years as online courses have developed to allow students access to teaching and support.

This 'blended' learning has become a hallmark of the OU's teaching, and helped maintain its position as the leading distance-learning university in the world. UCU said strong regional centres must be maintained to allow students the vital element of face-to-face teaching and help.

In March the university's academic body, the Senate, voted overwhelmingly against the closure. Two petitions* organised by staff have attracted more than 1,300 signatures in support of keeping East Grinstead open and maintaining the OU's regional structure.

UCU branch officer Lydia Richards said: 'The Open University is respected the world over for the way it brings high-quality higher education to a wide range of people. Part of that success is the efforts of staff in regional centres to harness the IT revolution, but still provide essential face-to-face support.

'People seeking a second chance at learning or trying to brush up on vital skills to meet the demand of the new economy need the OU - and they need the support its brilliant regional staff provide.'

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