The Open University Reviews | Glassdoor.ca

The Open University Reviews

Updated 4 October, 2017
126 reviews

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3.1
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The Open University Vice-Chancellor Peter Horrocks
Peter Horrocks
40 Ratings

126 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • I found there was a great emphasis on work-life balance (in 11 reviews)

  • Excellent IT systems to enable work from home (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • Bullying culture, micro-management, not a lot of support and no opportunities for career progression (in 7 reviews)

  • Sometimes people in Milton Keynes make stupid decisions but that happens anywhere (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Solid employer. Great work/life balance doing interesting things."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at The Open University full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Work on the main campus with 1000s of other people means there's lots of other activities to get involved with, outside of hours and during lunch breaks and things like that. The massive campus population means you can always find someone to socialise with too, if you don't like your immediate departmental colleagues.

    It being a large University there are a lot of innovative projects/research taking place, so no doubt you will find yourself doing something you can get passionate about if you're working on the academic side of things. Even outside of academia, the institution is a bit of a world leader when it comes to distance learning, competition is getting stiffer now but this should only compel the OU on further.

    I found there was a great emphasis on work-life balance. The University-wide budget is being cut at the moment so you may find yourself laden with a little more work than before, but you should rarely be worked to the teeth.

    Decent opportunities for growth and development, sometimes you just gotta ask though. Lateral movement is also often available given the OU's sheer size, and with some quite kind firing policies you should find ample job protection/security.

    Great relationships with senior managers in my opinion who were accommodating, willing to help, approachable and supportive.

    Beautiful campus and surrounding greenery.

    Cons

    Little boring sometimes. It's a bureaucratic beast so change can sometimes be slow but this is a key focus for improvement at the moment.

    The politics can also get tiresome sometimes, especially at the managerial levels, but this can easily enough be ignored.


  2. "Great organisation but go down hills now…"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Business Data Analyst in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Business Data Analyst in Milton Keynes, England (UK)

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people and very friendly colleagues, flexible working hours.

    Cons

    Too slow to adapt change and challenges , therefore it is going down hill now


  3. "Not the best"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at The Open University (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Pay, holidays, pretty flexible, colleagues

    Cons

    Too commercial, bad management, lost sight of purpose

    Advice to Management

    Remember you are a university and students should come before useless systems and statistics


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Dubious Future"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Lovely people, great work life balance, family friendly, great physical environment.

    Cons

    There is restructure after restructure yet the vision of the future of the OU has not been articulated. Morale is the lowest it has ever been and there is no trust between staff and management.

    Advice to Management

    Management is not the same as leadership. The OU needs leaders not managers. Articulate the vision for the future and inspire your staff to make it happen. Support them and they will deliver for you.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Losing its way"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Academic in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Academic in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Potential to keep alive its original core mission for social mobility and justice

    Cons

    Senior management fail to embrace the mission or to understand the complexity and special features of how we operate, and make decisions that are flawed, sometimes fatally. There is a lack of a culture of incubating good ideas that arise from the practice of OU teaching and research.

    Advice to Management

    re-educate or clear out the ineffective senior management


  7. "Distance-learning university"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - PhD Student
    Current Employee - PhD Student

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The OU is a big producer of educational content and at the forefront of technological development. It's distance-learning set-up makes the university more open to staff living away, which is great if you are willing to commute to the campus.

    Cons

    The campus is not that easy to get to, and many of the departments have faculty and staff that commute from around the UK. This can make it difficult to get things done and can make it feel more isolating because few live around the campus.


  8. Helpful (2)

    "Chaotic, dispiriting"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Lecturer in Milton Keynes, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Lovely colleagues, working for a really large organisation with a strong social mission. This should be a perfect job.

    Cons

    Unfortunately the social mission is nowhere to be found in management. Endless significant changes, huge army of 'project managers', lots of people employed to do stuff which is nothing to do with the core purpose of a university. Obsession with metrics and analytics while running frontline staff into the ground. This university flourished on the goodwill of its students and staff; sadly in recent years poor management has done away with both. For academics, large administrative load and reduction of research time - now driven by external income and REF.

    Advice to Management

    It's probably too late but please stop destroying everything that has worked for decades. Put ALs and the faculties back at the forefront and stop the drain of resources of FutureLearn and vanity projects. Stop appointing more business people and external consultants at £££s. Staff are still dealing with the fallout of faculty reorganisation, schools, regional closures, the disastrous GTP - I could go on.


  9. "Bureaucratic, top-heavy and lost its direction"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at The Open University full-time

    Pros

    Based in growing vibrant city, not far from London and easy reach of countryside

    Cons

    Too many bureaucratic people in a jobs-for-life mentality. Shuffling bits of paper, creating endless meetings and generally making things over complicated. The institution is trying to reinvent itself but doesn't know what direction to go in. Research is not valued, curriculum (and research) is unsustainable due to high overheads. It's been the golden child of UK higher education for a long time and generally had public money thrown at it with no questions asked, but now its time for a reality check!

    Advice to Management

    Set your strategic direction before rushing through a million parallel but disjointed change projects! Completely streamline yourselves and stop adding more and more overheads! Stop referring to people as grades! Bring in some fresh blood and cut the hangers-on (too many senior staff are only in their positions because they've spent over 20 years there and have no experience of working anywhere else) but then I guess they're too costly and problematic (unionised) to get rid off!


  10. "Great people"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at The Open University full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Love the people I work for

    Cons

    Little chance of progression. Time of change so unsettling


  11. "Highly respected institution"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at The Open University full-time

    Pros

    Subsidised courses offered to all employees.

    Cons

    Based in Milton Keynes which is quiet.


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