Steve Walker

Some less or more well-organised thoughts

OU graduation – now and in five years?

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This afternoon I went to the OU graduation ceremony in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. They really are wonderful occasions. Every student who crossed the stage has a story to tell – whether it’s the older gentleman who was collecting his BA _and_ his BSc or the one whose (adult) granddaughter shouted ‘Well done granddad!’ from the audience, the woman whose PhD was on elearning in Unison, or the woman whose infant child’s cry of ‘well done mummy’ and, of course, many others. These events are family occasions in a way that other degree ceremonies aren’t – while most undergraduates disappear from the parental home for three years, many OU students’ families will have been an important part of the support network that got them through. As the VC said – if there’s one thing harder than being an OU student, it’s being a member of an OU student’s family. And it was particularly moving when some of the students stood to applaud the OU staff.

But amidst all this, I felt increasingly angry. What will an OU graduation look like in 5 years? Will there still be the same diversity of students across their lifecycles, studying for their own reasons rather than for employment? Despite our best efforts, I doubt it. Who’s going to decide, once they reach middle age that now is the chance to study for that degree they’d always meant to? The demolition job that the ConDems are carrying out on HE funding, taking advantage of New Labour’s preparatory sorties, will have consequences that are little short of evil.

Written by Steve

October 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Posted in education, OU

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