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Staff vote of no confidence in Open University leadership

18 November 2016

University and College Union (UCU) members at the Open University have passed a motion of no confidence in their vice-chancellor and senior leaders.

Passed on Wednesday, the motion says the actions of the leadership have affected the quality of tuition for students, strained the goodwill of staff and damaged the reputation of the university.

The UCU branch has also written to chair of the Open University's Council - the university's main decision-making body - accusing its leadership of "bringing the university to the brink of public failure".

The union says the leadership has misunderstood the nature of the institution, disparaged the views of experienced staff and even failed to learn from advice provided by external consultants, who were critical of how change had been managed at the institution.

The UCU members point to the recent disastrous implementation of a policy to change the way that students are supported by tutors, resulting in both students and tutors not knowing when and where their tutorials were to be held, or whom to contact for help.

In 2015, the Open University approved controversial plans to shut regional centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Oxford. That decision led to a wave of national and regional strikes and increased the severity of the tutor allocation problems.

The union branch will meet with the Chair of the University Council before it meets next Wednesday (23 November).

UCU Open University branch president Pauline Collins said: 'Under this leadership, the Open University has been plunged into a gradual decline, lurching from one disastrous structural change to the next.

'When staff speak up, they are made to feel their views are not worth listening to when the reality is that they care deeply about the institution. And it's not just staff whose views are dismissed: external consultants have also expressed concern about how change has been handled, and these have been brushed aside.

'This vote of no confidence is testament to the widespread anger and frustration amongst staff who have reached their limits.'

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