The Open University plunged deeper into crisis yesterday when its vice-chancellor quit in a row with staff over funding shortages
The Open University plunged deeper into crisis yesterday when its vice-chancellor quit in a row with staff over funding shortages.
Peter Horrocks resigned a week after angry academics delivered a vote of no confidence in him over plans to cut courses and jobs to save money.
It is understood they were also offended by comments he made earlier in the year saying OU lecturers had got away with ‘not teaching’ for decades.
Earlier this week, video footage emerged showing him close to tears telling staff: ‘I’m trying to save the place. Who do you think I am? A monster? I came here because I care.’
His departure will effectively leave the institution rudderless as it will take at least a few months to find a replacement.
It comes amid a Daily Mail campaign calling on ministers to rescue the OU. Student numbers have dropped by 28 per cent in the last five years.
The fall has been blamed on fees trebling to make up for cuts in state subsidies.
Mr Horrocks, who was at the helm for three years, had tried to make up for funding shortages caused by dwindling student numbers by cutting regional centres, courses and jobs.
But staff rebelled and, with the help of the University and College Union (UCU), led a campaign for him to go.
Announcing his resignation yesterday, Mr Horrocks said: ‘The time has come when I am ready to move on, having achieved my primary goals at the OU.
Announcing his resignation yesterday, Mr Horrocks said: ‘The time has come when I am ready to move on, having achieved my primary goals at the OU’
‘I am delighted that recently there have been very strong expressions of political support for improved policies for part-time learning, a cause to which I have given everything I could.’
He said he would continue to work with the university for three months in an advisory role and do a proper handover with the acting vice-chancellor while a replacement is found.
He said his Student First Transformation programme to streamline courses had reached an important milestone and that the OU’s leaders would continue it when he had gone.
The move comes after the OU’s governing council met last Sunday evening to discuss Mr Horrocks’ future.
UCU regional official Lydia Richards said: ‘Staff made it quite clear that the vice- chancellor had to go and we are pleased he has finally got that message.’