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The OU in Scotland is working in collaboration with a range of trade unions in Scotland to support union learners in the workplace.

STUC, Scottish Union Learning and The Open University

Our strategic partnership with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and Scottish Union Learning (SUL) - established for over 10 years -  enables us to offer group-based higher education in the workplace, with a number of unions. 

STUC and The OU in Scotland celebrate 10 years of partnership (December 2017)Typically the participants are non-traditional learners.

We provide modules and, in some instances, structured pathways on to degrees or intermediate qualifications.

We have also delivered non-accredited workshop-based courses to over 800 learners.

Through this work we have developed a powerful tripartite model of employer-union-university partnership.

Marie Hendry, OU Depute Director (External Engagement and Partnerships) is pictured above with John Slaven, Scottish Union Learning's Development Officer, at an event celebrating 10 years of STUC and OU in Scotland partnership (December 2017).

Find out more about our work with SUL and Unions:

OU in Scotland Director Susan Stewart presented Letters of Congratulations. She was joined by Rolls-Royce’s Head of Component Repair, John McCormick, Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary of Unite the Union, Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), and Wendy Burton, Director of Scottish Union Learning.

Unite the Union, Rolls-Royce  

Working with Unite the Union and Rolls-Royce, we have been providing opportunities for engineering staff at Rolls-Royce's Scottish sites to study Open University modules and qualifications, in the workplace, for personal and professional development.


Dolanna Macleod, Pictured front row, far left. Photo by John Paul Photography

Scottish Union Learning

Aspiring managers from a range of Highlands and Islands' workplaces including ferries, schools and the police force completed Certificates in Higher Education Open.


Prison officers association and The Open University

Prison Officers' Association  

Prison Officers in Perth and Polmont have been honing their writing skills with an Essay and Report Writing Skills course. Creative writing workshops were also held for prison staff in Perth and Edinburgh - including officers, social workers and administrative staff.

Public and Commercial Services Union and The Open University

Public and Commercial Services Union

A bespoke Employability Skills course was delivered to members of the Public and Commercial Services union at offices and locations throughout Scotland, as well as Effective Communications, and Writings Skills for Business courses at the Registers of Scotland in Edinburgh.​

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union 

Bespoke OU course Workplace Communications Skills for Diversity and Equality has been delivered to Warburtons and Lightbody staff. The entire 280-plus workforce of Dawnfresh Seafoods, whose clients include Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's, also benefitted from this programme, with a further course in verbal communication and teambuilding course being developed. 

Unison and The Open UniversityUnison logo

The Open University has a learning agreement with UNISON to benefit workers across the UK's public services.

An example of our partnership with Unison is the Dementia Care and Mental Health workshops delivered for their members working in local councils and the NHS.

Strategic collaborations also include:

PFA Scotland logoWorking with PFA Scotland, the independent union for professional footballers in Scotland, to provide learning opportunities to fit around training and playing commitments.

Award-winning learner:

Brian Ronald (pictured below) is an Application Specialist / Project Manager, South Ayrshire Council, for the Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite.

In autumn 2016, while working as an Engineering Inspector and Lead Union Learning Representative with Unite the Union, at Rolls-Royce, Brian graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Open degree. He said: 

“The opportunity given to me by The OU, the union and my employer to achieve my degree while I worked has undoubtedly helped me to gain the promoted post I am in today." 

In spring 2017 Brian was the recipient of a STUC union learning award. Brian, his colleagues, and Suzanne Cullinane, Unite Learning Officer (Scotland), talk about the partnership and award.

Brian Ronald


If you are at an event with The OU in Scotland tag us on Twitter: @OUScotland.