News that the OU is to close one of its regional centres and review the existence of most of the others, may be more than a straw in the wind. A similar review was carried out a few years ago, but came to the conclusion that at that time it was too expensive to close them.
This time may be different – the appointment of a man from Microsoft as the OU’s VC was always likely to be a sign that the OU was going to move to entirely online provision. After the abolition of the OU’s regional network will come the replacement of its expensive part-time staff with ‘JITAITS – ‘Just-In-Time Artificial Intelligence Tutors’ – who will pop up in the style of Microsoft’s late unlamented paperclip to offer help at suitable points in the online text.
The result of course will be an even higher drop out rate than the current 80%. But as long as British universities get their money up front from student recruitment no-one will worry. As Wernher Von Braun apocryphally says in Tom Lehrer’s song “’Ven zer rockets are up, who cares ver zey come down? Zat’s not my department” says Wernher von Braun’.