United States Open University Announces Plan To Cease Operations

February 6, 2002

The Board of Directors of United States Open University (USOU) today announced that the University would cease operations at the end of the current semester in June 2002.

“The decision to close follows a difficult period in which student enrollment growth has been slower than anticipated,” stated Chair of the USOU Board of Directors, Carolynn Reid-Wallace. “Our action has become essential once our parent, The Open University (U.K.) determined that the substantial additional funding that would be necessary to achieve stability could not be justified in terms of current market conditions.” Dr. Reid-Wallace said that the USOU has been assured by the OU of the resources necessary to provide for an orderly shut down that would protect the interests of USOU students, faculty and staff.

Since its establishment in 1998 as an independent U.S.-based institution, the USOU has been funded by The Open University (UK). Brenda Gourley, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of The Open University (U.K.) and the President of the USOU, said that while the closure of USOU is a setback for the OU’s plans to work in the United States, “we will continue to consider appropriate forms of operation as market conditions improve.” “The investment in the USOU, through the involvement of the staff of the OU in developing our curriculum and systems for a very different environment, has had positive results.” Vice Chancellor Gourley added. “The decision to end our support of the USOU experiment is an economic one dictated by circumstances beyond our control.”

USOU is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) and has candidacy status for accreditation with the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

USOU Chancellor, Richard Jarvis said that he and his staff have begun to work through the complexities of closure with all stakeholders. “We will keep our constituent audiences fully informed throughout this process.” Dr. Jarvis added. “The USOU has been a wonderful demonstration of the effectiveness of Supported Open Learning among American learners, I am confident that the combination of outstanding materials, creative use of technology and the intimate involvement of skilled faculty that are the hallmarks of the OU’s Supported Open Learning will have a lasting impact on education in the U.S.”

Further details will be made available on the University’s website at www.open.edu. Students can also call the University toll free at 1-800-232-7705 for advice and further information.