19 May 2008

East of England’s nurses to benefit from new partnership between OU and RCN

Part-time flexible learning offers considerable benefits

Part-time flexible learning offers considerable benefits

The Open University and the Royal College of Nursing are joining forces in an innovative new learning partnership, to be officially launched at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, on Tuesday May 20.

This new strategic alliance will unite the OU’s high quality open learning programmes and the RCN’s excellent learning opportunities to improve access to high quality health care education in the East of England.

The partnership recognises that part-time and distance learning offer several key benefits, including much greater flexibility for nursing staff from remote areas who may previously have had no option but to leave their communities – and health care jobs – in order to study.

The range of courses on offer will be attractive to staff at all levels who want to develop their careers, from health care support workers to senior practitioners.

Part-time flexible learning also offers considerable benefits to health and social care employers, supporting their employees to develop their skills ‘on-the-job’ to meet the changing needs of the health service and fill gaps in the ageing workforce. It also enables more students to stay with their studies and avoid student debt by earning as they are learning.

Helen Wildman, Director of The Open University in the East of England, said the new partnership would improve both accessibility and quality in health care education.

"This alliance can increase the potential for us to reach out and draw in new learners whose circumstances may prevent them from engaging in more traditional forms of learning and we can do this throughout the Region.

"Not only will learners benefit, we are also confident that employers will be supported in achieving service goals and that, together, we can help to deliver the modern, flexible, responsive and skilled workforce that our health service needs to enhance patient care."

Karen Webb, Director RCN Eastern Region, said aligning the RCN’s learning programmes with existing OU programmes creates a new approach to flexible and responsive learning opportunities and the health and social care workforce.

"RCN Eastern members will welcome this opportunity for professional development with the RCN and OU which is both closer to home and work. We encourage nurses in the region to access these courses."

Students are already signing up to study for the first OU/RCN awards, including a Masters programme in Advancing Healthcare Practice, and a top-up BSc Honours in Nursing Practice, which enables qualified nurses to achieve an honours degree by studying just two years part-time.

Editor’s Notes:-
The Open University is the UK’s leading provider of distance learning education. The OU in East of England has 18,500 students, 80 staff in the Cambridge Regional Centre and 700 part-time tutors.

The Royal College of Nursing is the UK’s largest professional association and union for nursing with over 390,000 members. The RCN represents nurses and nursing, promotes excellence in practice and shapes health policies.

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