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STUC Union Learning Award For OU Graduate

Brian Ronald

An Open University in Scotland graduate and Unite the Union Learning Representative has been announced as an award winner at a ceremony featuring First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).

Brian Ronald is an Engineering Inspector and the Lead Union Learning Rep at Rolls-Royce’s Inchinnan plant. In October he was the first to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Open Degree from a unique learning partnership.

Brian was named recipient of the 12th Annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning during the recent STUC annual congress in Aviemore.

The award was sponsored by The OU in Scotland and administered by Scottish Union Learning.

Currently 30 learners are registered on The OU pathway at Rolls-Royce. Brian was instrumental in setting up the partnership, organising the degree programme with Unite, Rolls-Royce, Scottish Union Learning and The OU.

A unique funding arrangement has given members at Rolls-Royce the opportunity to study for a degree at a time that suits them, at their own pace, with support from both their employer and trade union. Hear Brian and others talk about the programme.

As a Union Learning Rep, Brian has also organised other courses for members in the workplace, in 17th Edition Wiring, AutoCAD and photography, with the support of the Learning Fund through Scottish Union Learning.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said:

“Brian’s ability to lead by example in workplace learning whilst also achieving a degree and working full-time is remarkable. He is a credit to his union, Unite, and to Rolls-Royce and is a fitting recipient of this year’s STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning.”

Brian Ronald, Recipient of the 2017 STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning, said:

“I am honoured to receive this year’s Helen Dowie Award, and would like to thank the STUC for selecting me for such a prestigious award. I think it’s great that the STUC formally recognises the work carried out by Union Learning Reps in this way. I would also like to thank my team of ULRs, Unite the Union and Rolls-Royce for their support in such a worthwhile project.”

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

We are pleased to be sponsoring this award which recognises the critical importance of lifelong learning and learning in the workplace.

Access to learning throughout our working lives has never been more important and The Open University greatly values its partnerships with unions and employers across Scotland.

Suzanne Cullinane, Unite Learning Organiser (Scotland), said:

“Brian is a dedicated ULR for Unite and is a very worthy recipient of this award. His hard work has seen many of his colleagues take up learning opportunities they never thought possible. He has played an instrumental role in the success of a unique degree programme in his workplace whilst studying to achieve his own degree. Unite congratulates Brian on winning this award and thanks him for his hard work and dedication over the years.”

Suzanne is pictured above, centre left, having collected the award on Brian's behalf from First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Khadija Patel, Open University in Scotland Learning Partnerships Officer, and Kate Signorini, Depute Director (Planning, Resources and Engagment), are pictured far left and third right respectively.

Hear Brian and his colleagues, and Suzanne, talk about the partnership and the award.


Grahame Smith, Lisa McGuinness, Khadija Patel, Nicola Sturgeon

STUC Union Learning Award Announced

The winner of the 2018 Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning is Lisa McGuinness from HMRC.  The award is sponsored by The Open University in Scotland and will be presented by the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

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