What a depressing thought that is.
When I set out studying psychology with the OU in 2007, my intention was that once I had my conversion diploma (or degree), it would act as a springboard into taking a leisurely canter through the OU MSc in psychological research methods, perhaps after a year or two break to do other things, while carrying on working at the same time.
However, that plan now looks like it will never come to fruition on the basis of the information in this message that has been posted onto the OU Social Science Faculty’s web pages in the last few days:
The Faculty of Social Sciences will not be presenting its postgraduate modules and qualifications after 2014. […] you will find details of the postgraduate modules and qualifications in Social Sciences that will be available to a final student intake in May 2011.
It’s undoubtably a decision that has been taken as a result of the savage cuts to higher education direct grant funding that the coalition government has chosen to make. (And it is an ideological choice, not a deficit cutting strategy, as I’ve blogged about before). As there are no loans available for higher degrees under the Browne proposals, it would be a huge financial gamble for institutions like the OU to carry on offering them and I don’t blame them for a single minute for taking this incredibly sad decision.
It really doesn’t look to me as if the OU is David Cameron’s favourite institution (except when he wishes to use it for electioneering purposes). It’s hard to believe that when he visited the OU in Milton Keynes in 2009 he said:
The Open University is a fantastic innovation that’s been copied worldwide and is a superb model of life-long learning
The likely closure of many masters programmes that the implementation of the Browne report will lead to suggests to me that the coalition government neither understands the concept of life-long learning, nor what motivates people to undertake part-time study.
I’m not really able to comment authoritatively on the impact the withdrawal of higher degree programmes will have on employment within the university sector. Presumably it will result in a negative outcome for teaching, research and support staff alike.
And if the best research and teaching staff do decide to go and work overseas, I would expect it to also have a negative impact on the teaching and quality of future undergraduate courses.
Still, there’s always great programmes to watch on the BBC instead of studying. Oh – wait a minute – they’re the next in line for the axe, aren’t they?