A letter to Pauline Latham OBE MP

Dear Pauline,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern about the impact of the recently announced spending cuts in tertiary education and in particular their impact on the Open University.

I have been studying part-time for a BSc in psychology with the Open University since 2007 and should graduate this year, hopefully with first class honours. It has not been easy to achieve this for as well as the financial cost of study I have had to make considerable sacrifices of time and effort, as I work full-time, to achieve my goal.

As you are probably aware, professional careers in psychology require study to at least masters level. My intention in 2012 was to start an MSc in psychological research methods with the Open University. After all, David Cameron on a visit there in 2009 said “The Open University is a fantastic innovation that’s been copied worldwide and is a superb model of life-long learning” and he was absolutely correct.

Unfortunately, it looks as if this will not be possible, as the Open University have in the last few days announced the cancellation of all of their post-graduate degrees in the social sciences with a final intake this year, including psychology. See: http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/courses-and-qualifications/post-grad-courses.php for full details.

The only possible explanation I can think of for this is that the cuts to the tertiary education teaching budget means that they cannot as an institution afford to take the gamble of continuing to offer these courses in the hope sufficient students will continue to want to pay for them. As you are no doubt aware, these cuts have disproportionately affected institutions like the Open University whose primary mission is to provide excellent teaching rather than research.

In my own case, I would be happy to pay the full costs of my course as I am in the fortunate position of being able to do so, provided that I can continue to work at the same time. However, this choice looks like it will now be denied to me as the course I want to participate in will not be running.

I would appreciate your advice on how I may continue to work full-time from 2012 and continue with my goal of achieving an MSc in psychological research methods through part-time study, with an institution that is as well respected and innovative as the Prime Minister believes it to be. Perhaps you would also be good enough to pass this correspondence onto the appropriate minister within BIS for their suggestions as well.

Yours sincerely …

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