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Jun 14, 2017 10:06 AM EDT

Open University, one of the largest and oldest online universities, is planning an overhaul to make itself more relevant. Along with the transformation, however, is the possibility of unemployment for hundreds of its staff.

Open University was established in 1969 to provide higher education distance learning to students who have difficulty adapting to the traditional classroom. After almost five decades of service, the institution is planning a restructuring that will help them face future challenges.

Vice Chancellor Peter Horrocks said the overhaul will result in a "revitalized and redesigned" Open University. Horrocks also added that the redesign is necessary so the school can become more responsive to the changing needs of the students in the digital age.

However, the restructuring will not happen without leaving any casualties. In this case, the casualties will be hundreds of employees who are in danger of losing their jobs. The employees have reason to be afraid since OU also acknowledged that the redesign has something to do with the financial challenges the school is facing.

The school said that in the past 10 years, the government has provided different types of funding which have greatly affected part-time student numbers. During this time, the university lost almost one-third of its enrollment.

On the other hand, University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said that OU should utilize the expertise of all the staff instead of removing them. She also challenged OU's leadership to be more clear regarding the status of the jobs with regards to the upcoming overhaul.

Although university leaders did not give a clear answer to that, they said that the redesign will eliminate inefficiency and duplication, university officials said. They added that once this overhaul takes place, the staff will also receive retraining.

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