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The Open University in Wales awarded Triple Crown for learning in the workplace

The Open University in Wales has been presented with three Wales TUC Quality awards for the learning it delivers in workplaces across Wales. The three awards were presented in recognition of OpenLearn and FutureLearn – the OU’s free online learning platforms, and for its access modules which give learners a chance to try higher education before registering for a full course.   

All three awards were presented to The Open University in Wales at the Wales TUC Union Learning Representatives’ Conference in Ebbw Vale on Friday 20 November. Each award recognises the work of the OU, in partnership with trade unions, in providing flexible higher education options for people in work who wish to upskill or reskill.  The awards also commend the OU’s commitment to making university courses accessible to those who may not have been able to access them straight from school. 

Over 2000 Welsh union members have registered for OU courses to support their own development and careers since the OU / Wales TUC partnership began eight years ago.

Wales TUC General Secretary Martin Mansfield congratulated The Open University in Wales saying:

“We are delighted to award the Quality Awards to The Open University in Wales in recognition of the close partnership between our organisations which has been benefitting union members and their families since 2007.”

Commenting on the awards Rob Humphreys, Director of The Open University in Wales, said:

“We are proud to receive these awards and to know that our partnership with the Wales TUC has made a difference to learners across Wales. The three Quality Awards evidence our innovative approaches to reaching into the workplace, via the Union Learning Representative network, encouraging learners to think about study options from a free online short course right though to an OU degree.”

Working in close partnership with the Wales TUC, the OU in Wales’ employer team works with Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) to explain how OU study works and why it might be suitable for those who don’t have A levels; who work shifts or have care commitments; or who need to learn and earn at the same time.  Steve Donoghue is a ULR with the PCS Union, and explains how this works in practice:

”As a Union Learning Representative, I am always looking for new and innovative ways to support working learners. This is especially important for those who have a multitude of commitments which mean finding time to study isn't always easy. The Open University provides flexibility for these workers, without any impact on the quality of the learning and the wide variety of topics and delivery methodologies is second to none.”

The Open University in Wales is the first Welsh university to receive a Wales TUC Quality award.  The OU in Wales’ sector-leading learning in the workplace activities were awarded the Times Higher Education award in 2010 for “outstanding widening access initiative.” This new recognition will further enable the OU to promote learning in the workplace through public, private and third sector partners across Wales.   

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Michelle Matheron 
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