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Staff 'deliver' giant postcard to Open University top brass in effort to save regional centres

15 July 2014

UCU members delivered a giant postcard to members of the Open University's council this morning, as the institution's senior members met to discuss the future of the Open University's regional centres.

Staff lobbied the meeting outside the Hub Lecture Theatre on the Walton Hall Campus in an effort to draw attention to the vital work regional centres do. The Open University is planning to close the East Grinstead regional centre, with 64 jobs at risk. 

UCU said the East Grinstead closure is not a one-off, but represents an ongoing attack on the values and mission of the Open University which has historically combined global and national excellence with a strong local presence to support its unique open entry policy. 

'Postcard protest' at Open University, Jul 14 UCU members deliver giant postcard to members of the OU's council 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 regional 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.'

The postcard wishes council members the best for the summer holidays and points out that staff in the regions will be busy during the holidays, listing what they'll be up to, including:

  • helping students with disabilities apply for coursesc
  • calling new starters and answering drop-in queries
  • interviewing, appointing and appraising lecturers
  • contacting local venues to schedule tutorials and special study sessions
  • arranging home exams for students with disabilities (including personal checks of invigilator ID)
  • hosting recruitment events.
Last updated: 10 December 2015