The Open University Lecturer Reviews | Glassdoor.co.uk

The Open University Lecturer Reviews

Updated 15 August 2018
36 reviews

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3.0
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The Open University Vice-Chancellor Peter Horrocks
Peter Horrocks
9 Ratings

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Pros
  • "Great company to work, the work-life balance is excellent" (in 13 reviews)

  • "Always used to be a good working environment and supportive colleagues" (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • "Senior management like headless chickens" (in 9 reviews)

  • "Bullying culture, micro-management, not a lot of support and no opportunities for career progression" (in 8 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "A great paid hobby with a fantastic organisation!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Telford, England
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Telford, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University part-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Able to work from home. Great experiences helping students learn.

    Cons

    Poor pay considering the hours spent

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the needs of associate lecturers more


  2. "A culture of bullying & lowering academic standards"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Lecturer
    Former Employee - Associate Lecturer
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at The Open University part-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Academic, higher education, online employment possible

    Cons

    Decline in academic input; gross staff bullying; lack of scientific knowledge in management.

    Oh, what a decline over a decade. I am a biologist. When I started the academic standard was high with courses designed & managed by top notch researchers to high academic standards. Dialogue was as one would expect in a scientific environment. Gradually, that changed. Course management devolved to those without any relevant research experience; "new" courses were cobbled together from the fragments of old, without cohesion. Physical books were more or less dropped as tuition fees went sky high, losing the OU almost all of its lifelong learning contingent.

    Worse, ideas came to be perceived as criticism & witch-hunts all too prevalent in an environment where respect for the associate lecturer became conspicuous by its absence. As an example, in my case, using the OU much-vaunted anti-bullying procedures, I found the issue dealt with by management who undertook a clandestine character assassination program. When I requested nearby venues for hearings, as I do have life-impacting but unseen disabilities, this resulted in a covert challenge that these disabilities were presented only after my complaint was made. I'm still trying to work out the rationale there but it was widely touted, including to my union rep & raised unwarranted questions over my integrity. And yes, I have it on record.

    I left - I have 3 degrees in science & adult further/higher education but the illogical lack of support made the work a thankless task, to say the least. And there was no reason for it at all, as (in common with most out-posted staff) I worked considerably in excess of paid hours & was completely dedicated to my work & loyal to the OU in my dealings with tutees.

    There is little left of the OU of old, which even then had a rather low academic reputation in comparison with mainstream, traditional, universities. Online education has become widespread & competition considerable. The OU all but abandoned its advantages of personal teaching & summer schools & dropped many of its science courses in my time with them. The introduction of inflexible marking schemes made it difficult to mark fairly, enforcing marks for inadequate answers & failing to allow credit for exceptional work. Pass thresholds were reduced. This fails to satisfy the basic educational tenet the marks awarded should reflect achievement - or lack of it. In case you wonder, providing the marks themselves was a comparatively minor (if essential) aspect of the associate lecturer role, which involved extensive student feedback.

    I find it difficult to perceive what advantage the OU offers students in an increasingly competitive field in which major universities have an increasing input.

    Advice to Management

    Well - put your house in order.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Review of the Open University"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Flexibility, particularly if you have young children/caring responsibilities
    Opportunities for developing writing skills/production skills
    Some excellent colleagues

    Cons

    Lack of career progression
    Current climate at the Open University demoralising - VC talking about the coming biggest programme of cuts at any university in the UK with pride! Most regional centres already cut. Comes from BBC and not interested in day to day work of the university in delivering teaching across a wide range of subjects just in being at the forefront of media developments
    Micromanagement
    Lack of resources being devoted to the production of what used to be first class materials
    Pace of change in a big and complex UK wide institution - difficulties in managing student expectations in the face of the often irrational changes
    Managerialism and lack of support for staff
    Isolation - little effort to support staff working in isolated situations and largely at home since the closure of the regions.
    Big workload

    Advice to Management

    I have worked for the University for 8 years full time and seen a massive change over that time in the resources that are being devoted to what used to be the gold standard of materials. Time and resources have been cut drastically and staff morale has plummeted.

    Listen to staff delivering materials, teaching and administration on the front line
    Stop boasting about paying yourself £360,000 upwards to administer the biggest programme of redundancies in any university in the UK and get behind staff in their efforts to maintain high standards and produce good teaching materials in difficult times. Return to the core work of the university rather than devoting huge sums to high profile initiatives like Future Learn and starving the production and teaching teams of essential resources .
    Return to the core values of the Open University - social justice
    Support staff - every single metric has declined since this VC took over and yet he has paid himself £13k PRP ( and a vast salary) - what kind of accountability and governance is there?

    Take responsibility for the bad decisions that have been made and reflect on senior management's role in the decline in metrics and poor decision making
    Cut senior management and put resources into the faculties
    Listen to the people doing the job.
    Row back on the move to hive off the most valuable bits of the OU business

    Listen to the students rather than creating meaningless sound bites - the students consistently say they want a blended learning approach ( print, online and face to face teaching) and not for everything to be online.

    Listen to Senate


  4. "Great job"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University part-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Freedom empowered energising, independent full of joys of teaching motivated students

    Cons

    Solitary because you are working at a distance

    Advice to Management

    More face to face interaction with students


  5. Helpful (6)

    "Chaotic, dispiriting"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Lovely colleagues, working for a really large organisation with a strong social mission. This should be a perfect job.

    Cons

    Unfortunately the social mission is nowhere to be found in management. Endless significant changes, huge army of 'project managers', lots of people employed to do stuff which is nothing to do with the core purpose of a university. Obsession with metrics and analytics while running frontline staff into the ground. This university flourished on the goodwill of its students and staff; sadly in recent years poor management has done away with both. For academics, large administrative load and reduction of research time - now driven by external income and REF.

    Advice to Management

    It's probably too late but please stop destroying everything that has worked for decades. Put ALs and the faculties back at the forefront and stop the drain of resources of FutureLearn and vanity projects. Stop appointing more business people and external consultants at £££s. Staff are still dealing with the fallout of faculty reorganisation, schools, regional closures, the disastrous GTP - I could go on.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Insecure and chaotic, but rewarding work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University part-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Get to teach earnest, conscientious students, mainly home based so flexible as work to own timetable, occasionally get to meet students at face-to-face tutorials, fee waivers for university study, free access to online journals

    Cons

    Really isolating as work solo, rarely get to meet colleagues and discuss work; no career progression in fact the opposite as increasing redundancies; in 7 years still in the same position teaching the same module regardless of effort; career development opportunities non-existent; expected to do a lot of work unpaid.

    Advice to Management

    Consider your lecturers' other commitments before upping the workload, offer more opportunities for research, offer more opportunities for ALs to meet socially every now and again.


  7. "Associate Lecturer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate Lecturer in Birmingham, England
    Former Employee - Associate Lecturer in Birmingham, England
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at The Open University part-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    You count! The impact that you can have on providing life-changing opportunities for people who did not have the chance to go to university via the traditional route

    Cons

    The OU is charging, and whilst change is inevitable in all walks of life, it is having a major impact on the fundamental values that underpinned an OU learning experience.

    Advice to Management

    Remember the USPs that set the OU apart from the rest and made it the 'national treasure' that it became. Staff were proud to work for it, not because it paid well but simply because it was the OU!

  8. "Associate lecturer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University part-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Can work from home, can study for free, a nice community to be part of

    Cons

    Job insecurity, high expectations of students, low rate of pay

    Advice to Management

    Improve job security for associate lecturers


  9. "Great values, poor security"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Contractor - Associate Lecturer
    Current Contractor - Associate Lecturer
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University as a contractor (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    It's great to work for an institution that has values I share. I am proud of the OU's history of making education accessible to all. The teaching and learning materials are second to none and I have learnt a huge amount working for the OU for 14 years.

    Cons

    The role of the Associate Lecturer is undervalued and poorly paid despite us the key drivers of the education opportunities offered by the OU and the only person many students ever interact with.

    Advice to Management

    Work hard to keep your best ALs, Give permanent central contracts and use our skills more creatively. Without the ALs you will have no OU.


  10. "Great institution, good employer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Current Employee - Associate Lecturer in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Independence, respect, interesting work, good communications

    Cons

    I have enjoyed every minute of working for the OU so I cannot come up with a con. Sorry.