Dave Prentis (left) and Martin Bean (right)
The Open University (OU) and UNISON this week (2 March) formally renewed their partnership to increase participation in education among public sector workers.
The OU and UNISON have been working together since 1997, and the signing today of a Memorandum of Understanding by Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of the OU, and Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, at the union’s headquarters in London recognises the success of the partnership and the continued commitment of both organisations to widen access to education and encourage lifelong learning.
Martin Bean said: “The Open University offers higher education that fits around working peoples’ lives. We are really proud of our innovative partnership with the UK’s largest public sector union and with 4,500 UNISON members studying with us to date, it’s clearly a success. We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.”
Working together, the OU and UNISON negotiate with employers to encourage sponsorship of staff for education and development opportunities, identify workforce trends to inform and update course curriculums, invest in research and development to improve education in the sector and have successfully developed partnerships with local authorities to provide tailored education programmes for staff.
Dave Prentis said: “Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said: “Thousands of public sector workers, many without formal qualifications, are already improving their prospects by studying online with The Open University. This is the sort of investment we need to help public sector workers build a better future.
"Everyone is entitled to an education and it is proven that OU courses lead to a boost in performance and morale. We have the opportunity to create a new generation of web-based workers’ education opportunities during a time of economic difficulty, when workers need it most. The OU offers a flexible, high quality, value for money alternative for those who do not want, or who are unable to, go to college or university.”
So far over 4,500 UNISON members have studied through the partnership. Benefits to UNISON members include a 10% discount on all OU health and social care courses as well as many others across the OU, access to additional study support and advice on career and progression routes. Information about the partnership and what it offers can be found on the new UNISON/OU website, which has been developed for members to provide information about funding, courses, free learning resources and different ways to learn: www.open.ac.uk/choose/unison