A new partnership launched today 1st September 2009 between The Open University in Scotland and Elmwood College will give local people access to one of the country's most flexible and comprehensive learning packages.
The partnership agreement links up Elmwood College's suite of higher education qualifications to The Open University's extensive range of courses and degrees to create progression routes between the two learning providers. This means that local people will be able to benefit from multi-optional learning programmes that offer them a range of ways to develop their skills at the different stages in their lives.
Anyone studying HNC, HND or a range of other courses at the college will be able to count credit points from their studies towards an Open University degree. This will help them to build on the knowledge and skills they've already gained, and in many cases to reduce the length of time it takes to get a degree.
Peter Syme, Director of The Open University in Scotland, explains the rationale behind the partnership. "In today's economic climate lifelong learning is an essential tool in helping people to stay one step ahead in the labour market. They need to have access to flexible, affordable ways to upskill and reskill when they need to in order to ensure their skills stay current and relevant.
"This partnership gives us the opportunity to bring together Scotland's leading provider of part-time university education with the college at the heart of the local NE Fife community," he said. "This gives us the reach and the expertise to contribute directly to the skills and learning needs of individuals and employers throughout the area."
Many college/university progression partnerships link to a limited number of specific learning pathways. The OU/Elmwood College agreement gives current and former college students access to the OU's entire range of nearly 600 courses. From this they have the option of working towards a degree in a specific subject area, or of tailor-making a degree profile to suit their individual interests.
The flexible, part-time nature of OU study means that it is likely to offer particular benefits to people who have studied part-time at the college to fit round their other commitments, or who are looking to commence or remain in employment while they work towards a degree. The progression opportunities offered through the new partnership are open to former Elmwood College students irrespective of how long it is since they studied at the college.
The partnership also offers considerable benefits for local employers, by offering a one-stop-shop for many of their training needs and supporting their employees to develop their skills 'on-the-job'.
The Principal of Elmwood, Jim Crooks has said: "The arrangements we have made with the Open University will ensure that students at Elmwood – and especially those from NE Fife whom we primarily serve – will be able to continually progress in learning as far as they wish and yet remain in the area. We have worked exclusively with quality partners to enhance our curriculum portfolio and the Open University shares our absolute commitment to inspiring learners and excelling in learning. We look forward to working with the OU in bringing affordable, accessible degree level learning to NE Fife and beyond."
One former college student to have already benefited from linking her college studies to an Open University degree programme is Nahid Khan. Having benefited from credit transfer for her HNC Health and Social Care she has gone on to graduate from the Open University. Nahid said that "the credit transfer system is brilliant. Open University study allowed me to work and study in the evenings. I would never have got a degree any other way." When speaking about the graduation ceremony she said it was "a dream come true."