NUT calls on the Open University to end discrimination against Cuban students

NUT | Thursday, 27 July 2017 | Click here for original article

"It appears that the OU not only prioritises US law over UK law, but US law over fairness and equality", the NUT general secretary wrote

Kevin Courtney, National Union of Teachers (NUT) General Secretary, has written to the Open University (OU) to urge the institution to revise their “discriminatory policy” of barring Cuban students.

“On paper, the Open University and the National Union of Teachers share many of the same core values and commitments; better opportunities for all, a focus on social justice, and a commitment to removing the barriers to quality education. However, I fear that the OU’s recent policy on Cuban students has turned its back on these key values”, the General Secretary wrote.

"I refer to the recent rejection of a Cuban student’s application on the grounds that this may put staff at risk from fines under the United States Treasury Department’s extraterritorial blockade legislation. While I appreciate that you must protect your staff, this must not be done at the expense of your students. There are many other ways to support and defend OU employees.

“The decision to reject the student is not only illegal under the UK’s 2010 Equality Act, it also breaches the 1996 Protection of Trading Interests Act. The latter states that UK-based companies or individuals can be fined for complying with these types of extraterritorial obligations. It appears that the OU not only prioritises US law over UK law, but US law over fairness and equality.

“Most importantly, this decision is in direct contrast to your mission statement: ‘to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.’ Indeed, it would seem, the OU is closed to Cuba. As an educationalist, I am sure you will agree that no student should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of where they were born.

“I ask you to revise this discriminatory policy as a matter of urgency, and hope to hear of this student’s successful matriculation shortly,” Kevin Courtney wrote, in a letter to Keith Zimmerman, University Secretary at the Open University.

The NUT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) announced in March 2017 that their members voted in favour of joining to form a new union, the National Education Union (NEU).

According to an NUT/ATL press release, the National Education Union “will come into existence on 1 September 2017 with over 450,000 members, representing the majority of teachers and providing a powerful voice for the whole education profession, including support staff, lecturers and leaders working in state-funded and independent schools and colleges. It will be the fourth largest trade union in the UK and the biggest union of teachers and education professionals in Europe”.

You can take action in the campaign against the OU’s ban on Cuban students here:

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