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More than 60 jobs at risk as Open University considers closing Bristol branch

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Written by: Michael Yong | Posted 15 September 2015 11:35

More than 60 jobs at risk as Open University considers closing Bristol branch

Almost 500 jobs could be lost nationally after the Open University announced it could close its regional centres.

In Bristol, some 62 people’s jobs are now at risk.

The centres due to close are:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Gateshead
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Oxford

 

The University and College Union (UCU) which represents staff at the university, said its closures would be “catastrophic”.

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.

Staff in Bristol would have to travel for an hour to get to their nearest centre in Cardiff, 44 miles away.

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."

Nearly 200,000 students attend the Open University. It said it did not expect this proposal to result in any compulsory redundancies, but expect that affected staff would need to relocate, or take voluntary severance or early retirement.

Peter Horrocks, Vice-Chancellor at the OU, said: “The OU’s mission has always been about embracing innovation and providing our students with the best possible experience.

“With developments in technology changing how we work, the student’s experience of the OU has not been limited by geography for some time.

“This is a difficult decision and I fully recognise the impact it will have on many of our staff, but we cannot afford to stay still.

“This recommendation, if approved, would allow us to enhance student support in a way that’s simply not possible in our current office network, and offer our students the sort of support they expect and deserve.”

The earliest date the changes could take place is February 2017.

 

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