Open University gave away £13 million in severance payments last year despite claiming they are broke, HESA figures reveal

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The Open University gave away over £13 million in severance payments last year, despite claiming they are broke.

The university paid out by far the most out of any other university in the UK on “compensation for loss of office” last year, according to data published by the Higher Education Statistical Agency .

A total of £13,336,000 was spent on severance payments in 2017-18, which was split between 412 employees, the data showed.

The beleaguered head of the Open University Peter Horrocks resigned last April, after warning staff that “this place may fail”.

The university’s annual accounts show that he was paid a £242,000 “golden goodbye” on top of his £321,000 salary.

Prior to his departure, staff had passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Horrocks after he accused them of “not teaching”.

In the run up to his departure, Mr Horrocks had been under fire over plans to axe staff and cut courses but then came under fresh attack over his comments about staff.

“The people who work here should be bloody well teaching, they should be teaching directly,” he was filmed saying last year.

 “It’s ridiculous that they’re spoken about as teaching when they are writing – that’s not teaching. And they used to teach in residential [universities] and this university has allowed central academics to get away with not being teachers for decades.”

Since tuition fees were trebled in 2012, the number of part-time students has dropped sharply. The Open University has been suffering from a sharp decline in student numbers, and leaked proposals revealed that dozens of courses could be closed down, alongside a major staff redundancy programme.

 Over £10 million has been put aside for “future restructuring commitments through voluntary severance schemes”, the annual accounts show.

Last year, English universities spent a total of £149,118,000 on severance payments, up from £111,319,000 in 2016/17.



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