Trouble is brewing, or has already brewed, at the Open University which is facing falling admissions, cutbacks and redundancies. Today’s paper reports a fall in annual admissions of just over 100,000 since 2011.
As a sometime student and current outsider looking in, I have followed the demise of this once great institution with increasing sadness.
One change that hasn’t been mentioned is the growth in young people (under 25s) studying with the OU – ironically, because it is more affordable at the same time that it is excluding its traditional demographic.
The growth in younger students isn’t a bad thing – it’s probably making a university education available to people who wouldn’t otherwise afford it, whose personal circumstances make traditional university difficult or who just want to get on with things without having the whole “uni” experience. But there does also need to be space for its traditional constituency of people who missed out or messed up.
Education is a good thing in itself – everybody benefits and everybody loses out when it’s simply seen as another commodity or, heaven help us, a luxury item.