Archive for May, 2011

History of the OU in fiction

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The current storyline in BBC popular drama Waterloo Road, in which the school caretaker’s OU studies are an excuse for a blossoming romance with the head teacher, is just the latest example of how the OU has become a handy plot device for television fiction.

The OU page on Wikipedia reports that other television series in which characters have studied with the OU courses have included Ever Decreasing Circles and Goodnight Sweetheart; in Brookside Sheila Grant was accused of having an affair with her tutor; and there are many other references. (more…)

Acquire a solid base before leaping forwards

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

According to Cherwell, 177 dons have no confidence in the Universities Minister, David Willets,  Jonathan Black, the director of a careers service and Fellow of New College, Oxford sees this as a wider lack of confidence in the government.  Elsewhere there is a lack of confidence in changes which are being made to universities. Although she is against charging higher tuition fees Valérie Pécresse, the minister for higher education and research of France has still succeeded in provoking professors and students to take to the streets (in both 2007 and 2009) and demand her resignation. She has argued for 15 big universities across the country. This has echoes of an idea associated with former Open University VC John Daniel, who coined the word mega-university (see Daniel, John S (1996) Mega-universities and Knowledge Media: Technology Strategies for Higher Education, Kogan Page, London). He, however, looked to the past, noting that Walter Perry ‘did more than anyone to build the foundations for today’s mega-universities. It is largely because of him that we can use the word ‘mega’ about these institutions’. Perhaps if Ministers better understood the evolution of the OU then academics would have more faith in their pronouncements about the best way forwards.

Mind the gaps

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

So far publicity for our new website  has focussed on asking students, staff and alumni to share their OU experiences – such as on Platform, the University’s online community website. Whilst we hope that more people will share their stories, the website also provides an opportunity for those with particular knowledge or access to sources the project may not be aware of, to add links or material about aspects of the University’s history.

For example, (more…)

Still here, still at a distance

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

London Metropolitan University is to cut its course offering by 70 per cent, including closing courses in history.

The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff is reported to be planning to axe its history and politics department.

There are plans afoot for Glasgow University to cut and merge courses in history, archaeology and classics.

Strathclyde University has emailed students about a “phased withdrawal from the following areas” – music, sociology, geography and community education.

However, there is still an interest in the of history at the OU both in Milton Keynes and London where, on 5th May a large number of academics attended a seminar at the Institute of Historical Studies in which the history of the OU was assessed by Dan Weinbren. If you want to see the powerpoint slides, contact us.

First contributions to website

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

With holidays over and word slowly spreading about the new History of the OU website, it is pleasing to see the first user-submitted stories appearing. (more…)