I've changed my stance on this subject over the week. I'm becoming increasingly less supportive of the cause and the group. Additionally I don't think any OU students should be particularly supportive of the voucher scheme, even if it has been of assistance. I've turned this post into an essay but I just thought I would put forward my many reasons for this.
Initially I joined in support of the students that couldn't afford to continue with their degrees because of the scheme ending, just to say that I sympathised and hoped they found another means for their study. However, I disagree with the smear campaign tactics by the group, as they seem to be directing the majority of their bad press towards the OU at possible detriment to the reputation of the university through few faults of its own and not Tesco, many people on the group can't seem to look into why there have to be cuts and the general attitude of some of the members.
The OU is badly hit by the latest government HE cuts. Not only to the cuts in general HE funding but it is also being hit by the Government's decision to stop funding students taking ELQs - qualifications at an equivalent, or lower, level than those they already hold. Almost 30,000 of the university's students fall into this category, worth a total of £40 million in funding. So the OU has effectively lost 30,000 students already. This changes the voucher scheme because the OU don't get enough in course costs back from Tesco (they are thought 50% of what is paid for in vouchers for courses, which is a lot of money the OU loses). It seems to me Tesco could have given more but I suppose that may make prices rise in store for Tesco shoppers so that's not really fair either.
I must admit, I still disagree with the OU's use of the alliance with Tesco because they admitted that they implemented it to "hook" students in when they may not have considered a degree previously (mostly it seems because they couldn't afford it), that the OU always had a set 3 year end date for the scheme but never told the students and they even advertised the scheme in the last issue of Sesame which I felt was misleading as the OU was intending to cancel it imminently. However, smearing the reputation of the university in the press is unacceptable if the university has to remove this scheme because it has become unaffordable, therefore a detriment to the education and student support across the university which is being forced to cut courses, residential schools, staff and is a massive problem for EVERY student then, however unfortunate the removal of the voucher scheme is to some students, it needs to be removed.
Sorry for the essay and generally badly constructed post. You can tell I don't often debate on here
but I felt I had to give my reasons for withdrawing my support from this cause. I'm sorry, Ann B and any other students that used the vouchers but that is my feeling on the subject at present.