ABOUT 90  jobs are at risk in Oxford following a decision by the Open University to close many of its regional centres, union members have claimed.

Almost 500 jobs could be affected at seven centres across England, under controversial plans described as “catastrophic” by the University and College Union (UCU), which represents staff at the institution.

The Open University in Oxford is based at Foxcombe Hall, Boars Hill, and if the centre closes staff in Oxford would need to travel for an hour to reach their nearest site in Milton Keynes, 40 miles away. 

There will be a meeting of UCU members tomorrow to discuss the next steps, but the union has warned that industrial action could not be ruled out.

Open University UCU branch president Pauline Collins said: “The Open University is respected the world over for the way it brings quality higher education to a wide range of people. 

“At the core of that mission are its dedicated regional staff who provide essential support to thousands of students and their tutors.
“Axing almost 500 staff across seven centres would be catastrophic and decimate the Open University’s ability to provide the kind of local support that students need. 

“We are unconvinced by the university’s talk of staff relocating, especially as this will mean hours spent in the car or on the train just trying to get to and from work.”