The UK’s Open Source Consortium has accused the Open University of breaching its founding principles. The Open University came about in the 1960’s as a move towards making university education available to all regardless of income or gender. Given the sort of forward thinking involved it is somewhat worrying that the OU has so far failed to support free software. If anything the OU seems to favour the proprietry software provided by Microsoft.
As reported by the Inquirer, the OU’s bias lies in the student technical support services:
It advises students that if they don’t use a Windows PC they “may have problems accessing the software and data files supplied with course materials”. It has produced a 31-page guide to using Microsoft software and also provides demonstrations. It has produced upgrade advice for Microsoft’s Vista operating system and even gone as far as promoting a Microsoft discount offer to its students.
The OU does distribute copies of the Open Source Star Office to all students, but that endorsement pales in comparison to its backing of Microsoft. It has given no such advice, support or endorsement of Ubuntu, the free operating system lauded as the Open Source movement’s viable alternative to Windows.
Its worrying that a student running a pc with open source software, on a limited income would have to basically scrap their set up and buy into microsoft in order to join the OU.