The Open University FAQ

Have questions about working at The Open University? Read answers to frequently asked questions to help you make a choice before applying to a job or accepting a job offer.

Whether it's about compensation and benefits, culture and diversity, or you're curious to know more about the work environment, find out from employees what it's like to work at The Open University.

All answers shown come directly from The Open University Reviews and are not edited or altered.

38 English questions out of 38

19 October 2020

Does The Open University offer unlimited holiday?

Pros

The best current pro is working from Home due to Covid 19, but this is being phased out due to the need to have us working on the incoming calls. Higher than average holiday allocation and Xmas closure days. Study for free.

Cons

Being pretty much the only department to be micromanaged and closely watched by a 'Realtime' team, everything is logged and judged, how long you take to go to the toilet, logged in 1 minute late, returned from break 5 seconds late, can't leave your desk other than for breaks or toilet, i.e. no coffee/tea breaks etc. Little to no progression in the Nottingham/Manchester Offices, if you want to progress work at the head office at Milton Keynes as around 95% of the internal jobs/progression opportunities are listed there. Workload substantially increased over the last two years with no pay rise to match it- in 2016 the OU had regional centres which focused on the needs of existing students for there learning, helped with assignments etc. These centres were closed and all of the additional work was given to the Student recruitment teams. Student recruitment then also got bundled with Outbound calling campaigns such as the National Student survey, Track and Chase (which is effectively student harassment for Student Loan debt chasing). For a department that is so key to the University's revenue and being first point of contact for students, we are treated the worst. When it comes to special occasions at work, we have to be manning the phones while other departments get to drink/eat/celebrate these special occasions, during Peak work times when enrolment is near closing, work loads go through the roof and we have to work sometimes even longer than our allocated hours to clear call queues and then have to fight to get our overtime clocked as 'Toil' which then we can have as holiday time but only when work levels are low enough to allow it. Having to work on outdated systems that are unfit for purpose, the student data software was originally a hotel management system that was given to the OU for free and was re-programmed for their use. This system runs piggy back on a data management system that is around 17 years old, is very temperamental and constantly crashes. The phone service called Aspect is Voice over IP, gives terrible phone quality so we sound like robots and also is prone to regular crashes and issues which we have to repeatably apologise to students for. They are updating the core systems funny enough but none of them for Student Recruitment, as it would cost too much money, even after a lengthy review. They used to allow any staff who was doing study additional holiday hours to allow for additional studies/time for assignments/exams etc, this was taken away from Student Recruitment as 'Realtime' noticed more people were studying and couldn't allow the number of slave hours to be given off so was brought to managements attention and removed as a benefit. Oh and lastly when you do start working here, you are given a rushed training and expect to know everything within the first few weeks or they get rid of you thanks to temporary contracts, when I started they gave much longer from training and slowly introduced you to various work tasks such as emailing/outbound calling/student support. now you literally get thrown in the deep end and if you struggle you get shown the door.

Advice to Management

If any senior/director level management see this, please review Student recruitment to be Grade 5 pay level. We do so much work and have to know so much info it is only fair for us to be so. other departments such as the Tutor/venue Management team in Nottingham. They arguably do far less work and have been given grade 5 after a lengthy application process. Please also review the removal of the study allocation for those in Student Recruitment and doing degrees, this was sickening to be honest.

When it comes to special occasions at work, we have to be manning the phones while other departments get to drink/eat/celebrate these special occasions, during Peak work times when enrolment is near closing, work loads go through the roof and we have to work sometimes even longer than our allocated hours to clear call queues and then have to fight to get our overtime clocked as 'Toil' which then we can have as holiday time but only when work levels are low enough to allow it.

19 October 2020

See answer

20 March 2021

Does The Open University have a sabbatical or career break policy?

Pros

Possibly one of the last true UK universities that hasn’t been converted to a business yet. Great culture of democracy, freedom of thought and speech and a focus on public value (rather than money). Great ethos of openness to all. Strong research culture and pioneering remote learning. Senior management actually listen to people. Great administrative support.

Cons

If you are impatient with bureaucracy you’ll be driven insane. The workload model is grossly unrealistic. PhD supervision is taken out of your research time. And it’s almost impossible to get promoted. Plus, there is no sabbatical scheme.

Advice to Management

You are doing well! But please address the points above - make it easier to get promoted so that people are not forced to leave for a promotion; PhD supervision should count as teaching and be given realistic workload allocation (10 days a year divided between 2 or 3 supervisors is laughable!); institute a sabbatical scheme; and tackle excessive bureaucracy. Thank you!

Plus, there is no sabbatical scheme.

20 March 2021

See answer

4 May 2020

Does The Open University have a pension plan?

Pros

Great holiday/leave entitlement, pension scheme and flexible working possible/considered.

Cons

On site catering is very expensive.

Great holiday/leave entitlement, pension scheme and flexible working possible/considered.

4 May 2020

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8 February 2021

Does The Open University offer parental leave?

Pros

Great maternity benefits and holiday Beautiful offices

Cons

Difficult to get decisions made Internal politics

Advice to Management

None

Great maternity benefits and holiday

8 February 2021

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19 October 2020

Does The Open University assist with or provide childcare?

Pros

Great colleague, huge commitment to social justice mission, new VC seems to be okay, treating staff very well during Covid19 (lots of paid extra leave for care responsibilities, lots of flexibility)

Cons

It's a big institution, so changing things is hard and takes a long time.

Great colleague, huge commitment to social justice mission, new VC seems to be okay, treating staff very well during Covid19 (lots of paid extra leave for care responsibilities, lots of flexibility)

19 October 2020

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38 English questions out of 38

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