News from the OU about postgraduate psychology provision

… has just arrived in my inbox from the Faculty of Social Sciences. It confirms what I’d been told by the Yorkshire region a few weeks ago, with the merest hint that something may be resolved in time for late 2012. The email is reproduced below, with my thoughts in italics.

Dear Tim Holyoake

I understand from PGSS colleagues in Region 07 that you have enquired about studying psychology at postgraduate level with the OU/Faculty of Social Sciences. I note from your academic record that you have recently achieved a first class honours degree in psychology with us. Warmest congratulations – this is a splendid achievement!

Thank you!

As you will be aware, the Faculty of Social Sciences has taken the difficult decision to withdraw its current postgraduate qualifications. This is due to the significant cuts in government funding of higher education institutions, as a consequence of which, it is no longer possible for the Faculty to sustain the number and diversity of its existing postgraduate modules and qualifications.

But the Browne review specifically excluded postgraduate study and funding from its remit. So this statement would seem to suggest a number of  concerns that the OU might have – such as the demand for postgraduate courses declining rapidly due to their potentially being far fewer graduates in future or the expectation that graduates will increasingly regard postgraduate study as unaffordable if they are worried about paying off loans incurred through undergraduate study. Either that or it’s simply a false statement – and frankly, I’m inclined to believe the OU on this rather than the politicians.

This ‘crossroads moment’ has afforded the Open University as a whole an opportunity to undertake a wide-ranging review of its postgraduate teaching and curricula.

I understand the need to review provision, but I think that most students were under the impression that this review was due to be completed in mid 2011, not sometime in 2012. The OU is about to lose a whole cohort – and possibly two or three cohorts – of suitably qualified graduates who would otherwise have gone on to postgraduate study with them. I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the first students through a brand-new set of postgraduate modules!

As you can appreciate, all Universities need to refresh and renew their academic programmes in order to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world with ever-increasing demands for a more sophisticated and highly skilled workforce.


The University-wide review of postgraduate teaching is due to conclude in 2012. The Faculty is therefore not able to provide details of any future postgraduate programme at this time but we will publish information on our websites and when our plans are confirmed.

So no change from the situation of almost a year ago – except an apparent delay in the university-wide review of at least six months and probably longer?

I appreciate that this uncertainty makes planning further study with us somewhat tentative but would like to take this opportunity to wish you well with any future studies that you may undertake wherever this may be.

“Wherever” is the right word! It’s not only the OU which appears to be affected by the way in which HE provision has been mishandled by the current government. However, I’m still thinking that Leicester looks like a good option for me.

Kind regards

Hilary Canneaux

Senior Manager, Taught Postgraduate Studies

Faculty of Social Sciences

Thank you for taking the time to write to me Hilary. It’s not exactly the Christmas present I was hoping for, but at least it’s a clear confirmation of what I already understood to be the case.

So – one final thought – sign the petition if you haven’t done so already and are a UK resident. Please.

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Reader Comments

  1. Sue Blench

    I’m in the same position. I got a 2:1 which I was inordinately pleased with, but now feel like I may have come to the end of the road – way too early. I’m going to give it a few months then have another look as I’m struggling to get my head round all this.
    P.s. Well done on the first!

  2. LadyIndigo

    Thanks for sharing this and well done on your great result. I have also just finished OU studies (Psychology Diploma – Distinction despite struggling on Cognitive Psych!) and am looking for distance learning Postgrad Psychology courses. I’m currently researching options but would have liked to have stayed with the OU…

Your thoughts?