Lady Thatcher a ‘rogue’ for saving Open University

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Lady Thatcher’s legacy is still being felt in Milton Keynes – after she famously went against her party to stop the Open University from closing.

The then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Iain Macleod, was rumoured to have the papers to close the Open University ready to sign in his office the night he died.

Lady Thatcher, Education Secretary, went against her party’s wishes, and ordered changes to keep it open.

Daniel Weinbren, who is writing a history of the Open University, said: “Margaret Thatcher came in and ignored the advice of other people in her party to close it.

“The OU was opened under a Labour government and had very close links to Labour at the time.

“However, she wanted the OU to accept students from 18, not 21 which had been the case at the time.

“She did cut back on higher and further education, so it wasn’t all smooth, but who knows what may have happened if she didn’t ignore her colleagues – a stance which was quite rogue at the time.”

Margaret Thatcher and MP Iain Stewart

Margaret Thatcher and MP Iain Stewart