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The Open University Reviews

Updated 24 November 2017
130 reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Bullying culture, micro-management, not a lot of support and no opportunities for career progression (in 7 reviews)

  • Another point of criticism is the fairly weak involvement of the OU in Milton Keynes (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. 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.


  2. Helpful (4)

    "A University in crisis again"

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

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

    Pros

    Location, free parking, annual leave of 33 days, supportive manager

    Cons

    Too many changes, too quickly, ineffective VC who spends more time polishing his BAFTA's

    Advice to Management

    The clue is in the name 'University'. It's not a business. Having employed the current and previous VC with no Education experience, the OU needs to go back to its core roots. Peter "look at my BAFTA's" Horrocks has made major changes in 2 years, bad decisions and is now putting staff under more worry and stress with OU Redesign. Senior staff have no clue what they are doing apart from running what was once a great british institution, further deep into the ground.


  3. "Underated"

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

    I have been working at The Open University full-time

    Pros

    Team environment - everyone feels like they're working towards the same goal
    Modern facilities
    Great people - a lot of out-of-work socializing, people look out for each other

    Cons

    Can be over-fixated on doing things as they always have been and slow to try/attempt new things.

    Advice to Management

    Greater flexibility in approaches to things. If there is a need for jumping through bureaucratic hoops it's often poorly/not explained to staff leading to frustration.


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  5. Helpful (5)

    "How are the mighty fallen..."

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

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

    Pros

    The people I have worked with here over the last decade have been the most consistently good colleagues I have had anywhere: intelligent, supportive, conscientious people who know the true meaning of teamwork and put it into practice instead of paying lip service then forgetting about it. Pity most of them are being made redundant now.

    Cons

    The disastrous locations axing project with its declared aim of putting "Students First" has got rid of hundreds of the most experienced and committed staff, with detrimental consequences for students. The OU's laudable stated aims, culture and values are routinely overlooked for the sake of letting senior managers bulldoze through their changes with complete disregard and disdain for the warnings and advice of more experienced colleagues. Quality of line management varies greatly from one team to another: I have been relatively lucky in my line management, especially recently, but know that many of my colleagues have been much less lucky. Many staff are underpaid and extremely overqualified for the work they do, and there are not enough opportunities for promotion.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your colleagues: they know what they are doing, and they care about the University. Vice-Chancellor and University Secretary: resign before you destroy this once-great institution entirely.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "overly relaxed work environment - not suited to eager young professionals"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Officer Engineering in Milton Keynes, England
    Current Employee - Project Officer Engineering in Milton Keynes, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    relaxed environment - no micromanaging

    Cons

    personal opinion - getting jobs done between departments takes forever


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Team Assistant Student Services"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Team Assistant Student Services
    Current Employee - Team Assistant Student Services
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good holiday, relaxed working environment, 90% of people are extremely friendly and helpful. Nice place to work

    Cons

    hierarchical attitude from management. Look down on you quite often and can be very patronising. I don't get the impression that many people here LOVE what they do.

    Advice to Management

    Please don't refer to me as a 'Grade 4'... I have a name.


  8. Helpful (5)

    "Complete mess"

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

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

    Pros

    Great place with a great mission and lots of job satisfaction, when things are organised to enable you to do the job. You work with great people at the lower operational levels.

    Cons

    Really badly managed by a bunch of power-crazed bureaucrats. Closing all the local offices means that nobody knows what's going on and everything is done through call centre based systems. Students used to have their own tutor but now the link between tutor and student has been broken.

    The management's main ability is to make the wrong decision when the obvious right one is staring them in the face. They claim to listen but never seem to hear what anyone tells them.

    Advice to Management

    Find a job somewhere else - preferably out of the country. Let people who genuinely care about and are interested in what the OU does take over. At the very least, if you're listening to what the staff tell you, try to hear what they say


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Stay away"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good holiday allocation and a nice campus. The OU continues to do some great work delivering on its social mission.

    Cons

    Massive change over the last few years, delivered without meaningful staff consultation/inclusion, means the OU went from being a happy, positive and supportive working environment to one in which most people are either job hunting or hanging on to retirement/redundancy. There is little trust in the senior management (the academic union passed a vote of no confidence in the VC) and people feel insecure and undervalued. Student numbers are nose-diving.

    Advice to Management

    Good leadership trusts the quality of the staff and works with them.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Student Support"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Always used to be a good working environment and supportive colleagues.
    Opportunities for staff to study with the OU.
    Nice work-life balance.

    Cons

    Unfortunately the OU is undergoing major changes which many feel will be detrimental to both students and staff. Closing regional centres and losing experienced staff who are being replaced with new staff in call centre setting.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the staff who actually deal with students on a daily basis.


  11. Helpful (6)

    "A terrible employer - the OU is on the decline"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Student Services
    Current Employee - Student Services
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    This used to be a great company to work for but all the Pros have gone. Most staff are looking to leave because of the changes and the OU is running itself out of business!

    Cons

    There are NO career progression opportunities anymore.
    Annual "staff satisfaction" survey results get worse year on year.
    A very arrogant, draconian management culture that imposes bad decision making and refuses to listen to staff who actually do the job and could recommend an enhanced way of working.
    Lots of downgrading of jobs, increased workload and 6 day work-shift patterns which is resulting in a massive turnover of staff. The OU is in the process of closing 8 Regional Centres across England making approx 1000 knowledgeable staff redundant. At this rate the OU will go out of business over the coming years.

    Advice to Management

    Stop making decisions which are destroying the University. The OU doesn't care about what it was set up for - students. All it cares about is delivering the most basic service it can get away with to make more money, all at the expense of students and quality education and support. Which is why student numbers have dropped significantly over the past few years. It will only get worse once the Regional Centres are all closed.


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