The Open University is refreshing its curriculum to introduce new options for students while dropping areas of study which are less popular.
The OU proposes to launch 12 new degrees or degree apprenticeships, designed to appeal to a new generation of students, and to withdraw 10 currently available degrees.
Following a review, it has also been decided to withdraw, merge or reintroduce in a different form around 65 modules – elements of study within a degree – which have generally proved less popular with students.
Maintaining a broad curriculum
The changes will mean that the University retains a broad curriculum across all its faculties. No academic disciplines are being removed from the curriculum.
Some of the proposals have already been approved by the University’s academic governance committees following wide consultation within the faculties. The remainder will be considered at the end of June.
It is anticipated that these changes will make a significant contribution towards an overall annual savings figure of around £30 million. This is identified as necessary to ensure that the University is financially sustainable.
Among the planned new qualifications to be introduced over the next year are degrees or degree apprenticeships in cyber security, economics, social work, IT software development and professional policing.
Time for review
Mary Kellett, Acting Vice-Chancellor at The Open University, said: “Any university periodically looks at its curriculum to ensure it continues to meet the needs of students.
“We have more than 170,000 students at the OU and many highly successful courses, but there are some areas where we could offer more options and others where, regrettably, we are not attracting enough interest.
“We believe this review leaves us in a strong position to draw in new students by meeting demand and it makes the curriculum sustainable in the longer term. The changes will play an important part in making the University financially sustainable by reducing its operating costs.”
Advice for students
The review outcomes means that the total number of Bachelors and Masters degrees the University currently offers (94) will remain broadly the same.
Students registered on degrees being withdrawn reflect less than 3 per cent of students. All those currently on degrees earmarked for withdrawal will be offered appropriate time to complete them or the option of transferring to other courses. Notice will also be given of modules being removed from, or replaced in, degrees we are continuing.
At this early stage, it is not possible to know what the impact on staff could be. This is because the University will be entering into a period of consultation with the trade unions about how to determine future workforce needs for 2019/2020 and beyond, and mitigate potential job losses.
The following qualifications have already been approved for withdrawal:
- Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Management (Sport and Football)
- Bachelor of Science (Hons) Environmental Management and Technology
- Master of Arts in Music
- Master of Laws
- Master of Science in Advanced Networking
- Master of Science in Medicinal Chemistry
- Master of Science in Advancing Healthcare Practice
A full list of qualifications to be withdrawn and of new qualifications will be published after final approval at the end of June 2018.