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Health and social care

The Open University has the expertise to support and develop health and social care professionals within both large workforces and small specialist teams, to meet the needs of the integrated health and social care agenda in Scotland. We work collaboratively with a diverse range of organisations and employers across the country. Find out about successes for our learners and an award-winning partnership, as well as information on further resources.

Social Work

David, social worker

Many practising social workers in Scotland have been trained by The Open University. The Open University’s Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Social Work (Scotland) is approved by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and leads to registration as a qualified social worker.

Since our first degrees were conferred in 2009, we have had over 400 graduates. Of these, more than 100 had embarked on our degree as graduate entrants, like David Fenwick (pictured right) - read more.

We also offer a SSSC-approved Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. The next cohort will be recruited in 2021 and start their study in January 2022. Students can be sponsored by employers in the statutory or third sectors, or submit an independent application to the programme. This route would potentially allow qualification as a social worker within 18 months. Following successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma, there would be the opportunity to do a further module to gain a MA in Social Work.

The Open University's social work education has been praised for its quality, flexibility and collaborative nature in the most recent Periodic Quality Review

Examples for employers of different options to support social work students are available here, as well as a general guide to sponsoring students on OU courses here.

An integral part of the social work programme is undertaking practical learning in social work teams. This video highlights the benefits to teams of offering student placements.


COVID-19: if you have questions about the delivery of our programmes in the coronavirus pandemic, contact our nursing team for the latest information.

Pre-Registration partnerships

We work with Scottish health boards and private partners to deliver our Scottish Government funded Future Nurse programme.OU staff and partners nursing meeting

Our Future Nurse Bachelor of Science (Honours) degrees in Adult Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Learning Disability Nursing, and Children and Young People Nursing include practice-based learning routes for those already working in healthcare support worker roles in a number of settings. Please do contact us to check individual eligibility. 

From Autumn 2021 our Future Nurse programme will be offered across all NHS Boards in Scotland.

Pictured above right are attendees at the Scotland partnership group meeting 2018 for the OU Pre-Registration Nursing Programme.

Michaela OlverKeith Allan who works with NHS Ayrshire and Arran tells us about his story having gained NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) registered nurse status. 

Michaela Olver (pictured right), a nurse with NHS Borders, has shared her experience of studying with the OU in a blog.

We also offer a widening access programme that enables healthcare support workers from the NHS and care homes to develop their skills in order to meet the criteria to apply for the Future Nurse degree programme. Please contact us for further information and to discuss funding options. 

We are happy to discuss partnerships with employers in the independent sector to enable them to develop their staff to meet their needs.

Other qualifications

For healthcare support staff, the OU in Scotland also offers a Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice. This is a standalone qualification, which may also be a stepping stone on the healthcare support worker career framework, or for an application to a Future Nurse degree programme. For those looking to develop their career within a healthcare support worker role but not looking to go on to the Future Nurse degree programme, we also offer a Diploma of Higher Education in Health and Social Care

For registered nurses, The Open University is also now approved to offer a Postgraduate Certificate in Non-Medical Prescribing which comprises part of The Open University MSc Advanced Clinical Practice programme.

Students studying these other qualifications may receive employer sponsorship, or for information on potential funding support visit our fees and funding page.

Further information

Discover more about our range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Find out more about the OU's work with the NHS and social care providers to train staff on the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies website.