A partnership between The Open University and UNISON has been named Widening Participation Initiative of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards.
The partnership was set up to increase participation in education among public sector workers and has so far helped over 5,500 people to access Open University courses and training.
Jeremy Roche, Dean of Health and Social Care at The Open University, attended the awards ceremony and said: “What this partnership has achieved in a relatively short space of time is tremendous. Widening access to education is at the heart of the OU’s mission and working together with UNISON we have been able to extend our reach further, providing flexible part-time learning to even more people working across the public sector.
“This award recognises the significant contribution our partnership has to the widening participation effort, and we’re looking forward to continuing to provide education opportunities to public sector workers.”
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with The Open University has been recognised for helping thousands of people develop confidence and skills through training.
“These learners make a huge commitment to their development, so they can continue to deliver a high standard of public services.
“As cuts hit the public services, training is needed now more than ever and we hope to continue this partnership to help thousands more staff reach their potential.”
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.
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