Open University cutbacks will hit staff and students says UNISON

Open University staff will get full support in their campaign against plans to close seven regional offices and axe 500 jobs, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis declared today when he visited the union’s Open University branch to hear first hand the issues they face.

The university’s plans to close the regional offices in Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, Bristol, and London have been condemned by both UNISON and academic union UCU. There are 500 jobs at risk, accounting for more than 11 percent of the university’s total staff.

Significantly, the Open University’s own senate has called the cuts “very high risk” and that the proposals “fail to support the academic mission of the university”.

“Closing these centres and losing these valuable staff would be disastrous for the Open University,” said Mr Prentis.

“Our members provide invaluable support for students, making sure the university can meet the access needs of disabled students; supplying course materials and assigning tutorial groups and organising exams.

“They offer advice and manage degree ceremonies – everything that makes the Open University the unique learning environment that it is.

“We value our members doing these vital jobs, and we would like to think the university does too.

“We will support our members and their branch. And if that means balloting them for strike action, we will do that.

“But we urge the university to work with us to find a better solution – not just for our members and other Open University staff, but for the students and for the university itself.”